Anxiety, Be Kind, Being Strong, Compassion, Coping, Courage, Emotions, Fear, Happiness, Invisible Illness, Just Breathe, Kindness, Loneliness, Love, Loyalty, Make a Difference, Misconceptions, Rejection, Relationships, Respect, Self respect, Thankfulness, Uncategorized, Understanding

You Don’t Always Have to Be Strong

I’ve been thinking a lot about the recent suicides of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain lately.  It’s really heartbreaking for their families, and leaves so many unanswered questions, but it seems that only when something like this happens do we really understand how much pain (emotional or physical) someone may have.  Of course, it’s too late to help them at that point, but how do we help someone who is hiding their pain from those they love? How do we know?  Some people love playing “the victim,” and love getting the attention that goes along with that.  Others of us, however, don’t want to be a burden on those we love.

My daughter had a friend who committed suicide a few years ago.  They were very close in high school, and then this friend ended up pushing away my daughter, along with a lot of other people who had been her friends.  Of course, it makes sense why she pushed everyone away now, but at the time, how could anyone know that she was hurting so much?  She pushed people away with meanness and made them not want to be with her.  I guess in her way, she was trying to protect them from the pain she knew she may eventually put them through.  Even when it happened, my daughter was not mad at her.  She hurt for her.  She still loved her.  She understood then that her friend had needed help, and didn’t know how to ask for it.

We all need help from time to time.

Last summer, I found myself in a dark place.  I was not suicidal, but I was sad.  I was afraid.  I was hurting.  And I was feeling a lot of pressure from so many different places.  I had been diagnosed with a medical condition that will be with me for the rest of my life.  I was alone when I got this diagnosis because my husband was in New York with his family.  I had recently been terribly hurt by some people I really cared about. I had no idea how I was going to handle another year of teaching with this type of medical diagnosis.  I was bogged down with some very difficult, important paperwork that was pushing me to my limit.  I was overwhelmed, alone, confused, sad, and hurting a lot.  I didn’t want to die, but I wanted to disappear for awhile.  I laid down on the kitchen floor, and cried.  And cried.  And cried.  And cried.  And finally a calmness came over me, and I got up and finished my paperwork that had been frustrating me so much.  I was still upset and alone, mad and frustrated, but I knew I had to pull myself together to keep going.  It didn’t matter what anyone else thought of me, or how anyone was trying to hurt me.  I had to keep at the paperwork, no matter how confusing and difficult it was.  Al would be home in a few days and we could begin exploring our medical options, and he would be home to comfort me.  It would all be okay.  I was entitled to a meltdown for all I was dealing with.  But I had to get up and face these obstacles.  I had to be strong for my husband and my children.  I couldn’t disappear.

Al and I had a discussion earlier tonight about how when either of us is hurting or sick, we try not to let the other one see how much we’re suffering.  We try to protect each other, even through our own pain.  I didn’t tell Al about my major meltdown last summer until recently.  I didn’t want to worry him, or put any added stress on him.  He worries enough about me….why cause him to worry more?  Why cause him added pain?  When he is sick, he tries to conceal how bad he feels so I won’t worry.  It hurts to see your partner hurt.  We are strong for each other, but we also know that sometimes we can’t handle everything alone, whether it’s a physical illness or a giant weight on our shoulders.  We need help from each other.  We don’t have to do it alone, and it has taken me awhile to learn this.  It isn’t something I’ve been used to.

Those people who are in so much pain that they take their own lives, aren’t trying to hurt anyone else.  So many times they have been protecting their loved ones for so long it becomes too heavy of a burden to carry.  They’ve had to be strong for everyone while they hurt.  They’re really quite selfless, even though some will argue just the opposite.  They’re funny, compassionate, and caring, but they have hidden their own feelings in order to protect those they love.  We know to take care of those who ask for help.  But let’s take care of those who seem strong too.  Let’s be there for the ones who always seem to be there for everyone else.  Let’s be there for the ones who start isolating themselves, even if they don’t want us.  Let’s be there for the ones who make us laugh when we want to cry.  Let’s be there for the ones who say, “I’m fine.”  They may be the ones who are suffering the most, and don’t know how to ask for help.  We are all human, and every human needs help at some point in their lives.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255

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Art, Be Happy, Crawfish Festival, Happiness, Life Happens.....Make the Best Of It!, Misconceptions, Pensacola, Pensacola Lighthouse Museum, Thankfulness, Togetherness, Uncategorized

Appreciating Your Surroundings

It sure was a beautiful weekend here last weekend!  Because I’ve been really stressed lately, I needed the weekend in a big way!  Al and I don’t get to see each other for more than a couple of hours each day during the week because of our work schedules, and sometimes he works on Saturdays, so it felt like we hadn’t really had a chance to talk about much lately.  We spent Saturday downtown, where it seemed that everyone and their dog  were also out and about (seriously…..there are dogs EVERYWHERE downtown, and I love it!)!  It was busy with graduations, the Crawfish Festival, Cinco de Mayo celebrations, farmers’ market, and  people out just enjoying the beautiful weather!  It was nice to see so many people enjoying the festivities.

We walked, and talked a lot, and of course, when we are together, there’s always a lot of laughter and affection.  We started by cruising through the farmers’ market, which is weekly, and we have a our favorite vendors we like.  We sat at the Crawfish Festival, listening to the music, watching the people, talking to new people, and enjoying the food.  There was an abundance of delicious items, besides the “mudbugs” (crawfish, for those of you who aren’t familiar with that term)….shrimp, alligator, oysters, shark, chicken, gumbo, etouffee, rice and beans, paella, etc.  Then we walked through downtown, and stopped off at a few places along the way, just enjoying each other’s company.

This part of Florida has a hillbilly reputation…..some of it earned, but some of that label is unfair.  Pensacola has rich history.  Did you know that it even predates Jamestown and St. Augustine?  We have historical museums, art museums, the Naval History Museum and Lighthouse, Fort Pickens (where Geronimo was held when our government was relocating/imprisoning Native Americans), GREAT food, dolphin cruises, fishing excursions, entertainment, and shopping…..oh, and don’t forget the beautiful beaches (some of the best in the world), and water sports.  Every weekend, all year long, it seems that there is some sort of festival going on (usually free) from Destin to Pensacola.  Whether it’s seafood, art, jazz, Gallery Night, or a cultural festival, there always seems to be something happening, and you can experience it on a budget.  We also have minor league baseball and hockey teams.

No, we aren’t Miami or New York, but that’s okay.  If we wanted that, we could go there.  Those places are fun to visit, and have great energy, but the pace of life here is a lot more agreeable to our lifestyle now.  We have what we need, and enjoy our peace and quiet as well.  We can relax on the beach, or stay busy in town.  We can appreciate our life here, and make the most of what it offers.  We love good weather, and we have over 300 days of sunshine a year…..as Al says, “You can’t beat that!” I’ve been fortunate to live in a lot of different places in my life, and I have appreciated each one for everything it offers.  Take the time to learn about your surroundings.  Appreciate the history, food, culture, and weather.  Even though I have to deal with the lizards, frogs, snakes, and bears, I do like it here, and I get to be here with my best friend.  Will we stay here forever? Who knows?  But for now, this works for us.

 

Attitude Adjustments, Be Happy, Coping, Do something, Doing your best, Happiness, Uncategorized

I’m Doing the Best I Can

Well, it’s spring break, and it’s been a bit of a different kind of week off for me.  Usually, I spend spring break with a few days at the beach, a lot of cleaning and organizing, and my youngest daughter comes to visit if she can get a few days off from school.  Well this year…..the planets are aligned differently I guess. It’s been nice, but different.  I’ve had another doctor’s appointment (ugh!), with yet another adjustment to my meds.  I’ve been to the farmer’s market with my husband, and to a couple of local museums (you just can’t beat buy one get one free coupons!).  We’ve fixed a television and a toilet.  I’ve studied for, and passed, another three hour test for my post licensing real estate course.  I’ve rested a lot.  I’ve scared a snake……he scared me first.  I’ve been annoyed with Facebook and the data breach.  I’ve watched a lot of television shows that I enjoy.  I’ve tried to organize a few things around the house.  That’s a slow process, but I’ll get there…..maybe.  Otherwise, you might find me on an episode of Hoarders!  Just kidding!  I’m not anywhere near that….yet!  So I”ve been able to get a few things accomplished, while relaxing.  Nothing exciting at all, but I’m doing the best I can, and it’s exactly what I need.

I used to think that needing to be busy and doing something was important for the time off from work.  And it is….but that something may involve just going for a walk to get fresh air, or watching movies and relaxing, or reading a book.  Teachers work hard.  I spend an hour and a half in the car every day for a commute.  I’m enjoying the peace and quiet away from my busy, lovable 1st graders!  Besides, having a chronic illness has forced me to make changes.  I’m not missing out on life, but I do have to adjust! Even though my activity level has changed, the week off still seems to be flying by! But part of me still feels like I should be doing something.

Part of these lifestyle changes have involved a bit of guilt.  I feel like I screw up fun for other people.  I can’t have things too loud.  I get tired easily.  I need to hold onto things or people for balance.  I feel dizzy and light headed most of the time….some people will say it matches my personality! And my head hurts!  I may not be the life of the party, but if you tell me to walk across a room unassisted, I am the party!  I’ve never been one to need to be the center of attention because of an intense social anxiety problem, but I’ve always enjoyed being out and about, and doing things.  I like meeting people in the right setting.  I like learning about people, and new places.  So making lifestyle changes is hard.  I would guess it would be similar to trying to eat healthier, exercise more, or stop smoking or drinking. Those seem to be pretty common and relatable, and we need to support anyone who is just doing the best they can.  Have you ever been out to eat with someone who is on a diet?  Or at a party where alcohol is being served with someone who is struggling to stop drinking?  It’s hard for them, but we support them.  They’re doing the best they can.  That’s all we can ask of them.  No guilt.

So I guess I need to stop putting guilt on myself, and remind myself daily that I’m doing the best I can…..that’s doing something.  No one else is going through exactly what I’m going through.  Sure, other people have had this condition, and I’m so grateful to my friends who are there for me to answer my questions (especially my friend Karen from college!).  But no one knows what I deal with daily, just as I don’t know what they deal with.  I would assume that everyone is just doing the best that they can, no matter what their circumstances.  That’s all we can ask of each other.

If I’m grumpy, it might be my best for that day.  If I’m sleepy, it might be my best.  If I’m goofy, it might be my best.  If I seem fine, it might be my best.  If I want to walk around a quiet museum, it might be my best.  If I’m confused or in pain, it might be my best.  I have to stop allowing myself (and others) to make me feel like I’m lazy or rude or not pulling my weight if I am unable to do more.  So this week, what might seem like a mediocre, boring spring break to others is my best, and it’s exactly what I need for me.  If we are all doing our best, then we should all get along just fine, right?  How about we all do our best for support, understanding, and not judging what we don’t understand.  I promise it won’t cost a thing, and it might make life a lot easier.  Do your best for you, and don’t feel guilty for it.  That’s doing something.

 

Attitude Adjustments, Be Kind, Being Strong, Compassion, Courage, Don't Judge, Happiness, Kindness, Laughter, Laughter is the best medicine, Life Happens.....Make the Best Of It!, Love, Loyalty, Make a Difference, Married to My Best Friend, Passion for Living, Relationships, Thankfulness, The House By the Side of the Road, Uncategorized, Understanding, Unexpected Life Events

How Will You Be Remembered?

How do you want to be remembered?  I think if everyone asked themselves this question, the world may be a better place.  How do we want our loved ones, friends, and acquaintances to remember us? I’ve had a lot of time to think about this the last couple of years.  In 2016, I was facing a potentially fatal health situation with a mass in my abdomen on two major organs.  I wasn’t afraid of dying, but I was afraid of what it would do to my husband and children.  I felt guilty about the potential pain and loss they would feel.  I didn’t feel like I had had enough time with them.  I even took my youngest daughter to Disney World because I wanted her to have happy memories of me, since she is still so young.  Fortunately, that health scare all turned out to be benign, and I made a full recovery (I think!).  Now I’m facing another serious health situation that has me questioning not only my mortality, but also thinking about how I want to be remembered.  As I struggle with the migraines, seizures, balance problems, tinnitus, vertigo, and pressure in my head, I am constantly trying to stay positive, grateful, and keep my sense of humor!  With the real possibilities of hearing loss and facial paralysis, and even death, staying positive can be a challenge!  I lean on my husband a lot, but I know it hurts him to see me hurting and struggling.  I’m just lucky I have him to help me through this process.  I may live another 30, or even 40 years, but I may not.  Any one of us could be gone tomorrow because of things we cannot control.  So even though being sick has made me think about these things more often, everyone should think about this…..see if it changes your attitudes or behavior toward anyone, or about how differently we could be conducting ourselves.

My parents and grandparents were wonderful people.  I don’t know of anyone who remembers them differently.  They may be remembered for their humor, their bravery, their honesty, compassion, and kindness, but most of all, they will be remembered for being good people.  My grandmother had a poem hanging next to her front door written by Samuel Walter Foss.  It was called, “The House By the Side of the Road.”                          It read:

“Let me live in a house by the side of the road, where the race of men go by. The                  men who are good and the men who are bad, as good and bad as I.  I would not sit              in the scorner’s seat, nor hurl the cynic’s ban. Let me live in the house by the side                of the road and be a friend to man.”

On the back of the poem was inscribed, “To Daisy…who lives in the house by the side of the road.” Obviously, my grandmother was thought of, and now remembered, as someone who was a friend to all, no matter how good or bad.  Years later, I told my former sister in-law about that poem, and she presented me with one very similar to the one my grandmother had for my birthday.  I have it hanging next to my front door, as Grannie did, and it reminds me every day to try not to be scornful or pass judgement on someone in need.  It reminds me to be patient, helpful, generous, compassionate, and kind because my grandmother was all of those things and more!  Having people in my life who have been so influential as far as their character and morals has been a blessing!  Not everyone has good role models, and I have been blessed with so many! I have also been blessed with a good sense of humor, which helps me get through a lot of difficult situations!

For a very long time in my life, I was unhappy, and stressed out with a lot of responsibility.  It was hard to stay positive sometimes!  I hope that if people remember me during this time period, they will at least remember my strength and perseverance.  I made it through some really difficult situations! We will all have difficult times in life, and hopefully, we are better people after getting through all of it.

I hope to be remembered as someone who is a good wife, mother, and grandmother, compassionate, helpful, protective, funny, kind, considerate, loving, sincere, welcoming, accepting, strong, stubborn (not always a bad thing, is it?), generous, and loyal.  Are there other ways I will be remembered?  Short? Silly? Sarcastic? Dog lover? Hard worker? Good teacher?

Like I said earlier, I think if we all thought about our own mortality, and how we want to be remembered, we may make more of an effort to be good people.  Who wants to be remembered as mean, petty, selfish, angry, resentful, controlling, manipulative, racist, or hateful? We never know how much time we have left.  We will not all live to be elderly.  If you see any of these negative qualities in yourself, it isn’t too late to change. I want to be remembered as the one who lives in “the house by the side of the road and be a friend to man.”

 

 

Art, Be Happy, Clutter, Collecting, Decorating, Eclectic, Happiness, Uncategorized, Unique Personalities

Is It Clutter, Or Is It You?

Our brains and minds and lives are full of stuff we don’t need.  The world is full of information and stuff.  Clutter.  Does it do us any good? Is it comforting?  I have been able to trim things down and get rid of things that I felt held no sentimental value.  But what is considered to be clutter to some may be someone else’s whole life.  I’ve watched the show Hoarders, and am glad I am not attached to paper bags and broken pencils, but I’m sure some people wonder why I have some of the things I have! Now that I’ve said that, I am in no way a hoarder! I do know a few people who I feel may have a problem with “collecting,” but that’s not me.  Getting through my house is very easy!

At one point in my life, I had a 2800 square foot Victorian home, built in 1886, with beautiful woodwork, leaded and stained glass windows, pocket doors, tall ceilings, etc.  It was full of big furniture, and since I had three children living with me at the time, it was also full of toys and games.  I wouldn’t trade those memories of my children for anything, but I never want to have a big house, or that much stuff, ever again.  I’ve downsized, and de-cluttered, and now live in a smaller (1700 sq. ft.) home.  It’s a “cookie cutter” home, but we’ve made it ours with our unusual style of decorating and things that mean a lot to us.  From where I sit right now, I see the American flag from my father’s memorial service, that belongs to my son. I also see the American flag that flew at my grandparents’ home in China in the 1930’s.  Things like that are priceless because they can never be replaced, holding so much sentiment.  I also see a cabinet with some of my old toys and dolls,  and some of my grandmother’s and mother’s dolls.  Again….most of those things can’t be replaced.  They are worth nothing to anyone else. There’s the piggy bank my Grandpa Penry gave me when I was 4…..and my Grannie Slater’s salt and pepper shakers…..my first Barbie…..my Raggedy Ann……a few old Hot Wheels and Matchbox cars…….I have very specific memories of most of these things.  They’re put away nicely and neatly in my cabinet……..not worth much monetarily, but they mean a lot to me.  Over in the corner is my Grannie’s chair that used to sit in her dining room, next to her telephone…..I can see her sitting there, talking to various relatives or neighbors…..I also remember standing on it to call my sister to help me with a mouse when I was at Grannie’s alone (she didn’t help me…..something about not wanting to drive all the way across town to pick up a dead mouse!  Sheesh!).  Family.  History.  There are pictures everywhere……the kids, our parents, grandparents, places we’ve visited, the park where we were married in New Orleans……there can never be too many pictures! We also have a ton of books….I’ve had to clear out a few of those too, but many belonged to our parents, my grandparents, and even great grandparents.  Some are treasures from places we’ve lived or visited…..more memories.

These things are not clutter to us.  They are our lives, our loves.  I don’t need the latest gadgets in the kitchen, my furniture is old (and comfy), I have some older pieces of furniture that belonged to my parents, that I’ve painted or refinished.  Our cars are not new (and not paid for!), but we have our little treasures. Al’s collection of African masks in the hallway, along with the wall of family photos, remind us each day how diverse and eclectic our tastes are.  But they represent us, and who and what we love.

Our home will never look like a designer showcase home.  I wouldn’t want it to.  I watch the home decorating/renovating shows, and get a few ideas, but I would never want our home to look like everyone else’s.  While Pinterest is interesting, and has some really pretty decorating ideas, those ideas will look like everyone else’s house.  I’m sure people come into our house and wonder what in the world they have stepped into…..but they can never come away from our house saying it’s boring!

Having a home like this also reflects our personalities.  Have you ever been in a home that is stark and boring with no character?  Nothing personal?  To me, this usually indicates a boring personality too!  What do you like?  Where have you been?  Where do you come from?  Do you love your family?  Your friends?  Your life?  My husband and I definitely have unique personalities!  We love to have fun, travel, and make new memories.  We are building our life together, and bringing our happy times from the past along for the ride.  The places we’ve lived and have visited….the people we’ve met, and have loved…..have made us who we are today.  Why wouldn’t we want our home to reflect that?  Why shouldn’t our home be uniquely ours?  We are unique.  Our story is unique.  Our home is our sanctuary, and where we share our life together. It’s us.  But stuff isn’t what makes us happy.  We have all we need.  If we lost it all tomorrow, but still had our health and each other, we could still be happy.  Some people never learn this.  They just want more stuff.

Make your home yours.  Your “clutter” is unique to you.  And if it’s in your heart, or part of who you are, is it really clutter?  Or is it really you?  It may be just stuff to some, but don’t let anyone tell you that it holds no value if it’s part of you. If it is comforting to you, and if it holds memories or sentimental value to you, then be proud of it.  Enjoy your clutter” if you love it!

 

Be Happy, Happiness, Love, Uncategorized, Valentine's Day

Love Is In the Air

Well, tomorrow is another Valentine’s Day, and I have seen the retailers trying to cash in for several weeks now.  It’s really getting bad with the pressure to give just the right thing……or give to the right person, just because the commercials tell us we must.  While I really do love this special day, and what it represents….LOVE…..I don’t feel like anyone should feel pressure to “out give” or keep up with someone else when it comes to gift giving.  I also hate how it makes others feel left out or unloved if they don’t have a significant other.  That really isn’t fair.  I have been in that situation, and I believe it’s also called, “Singles Awareness Day.”   Funny, but kind of not.

Sure, every woman wants flowers.  I will take flowers any day of the year!  Fortunately, my husband brings me bouquets of flowers pretty often.  But I am just as happy with a sweet card, a favorite treat (usually Hot Tamales), or a nice dinner out.  I don’t need jewelry.  I don’t need huge bouquets of flowers delivered to work (although that is fun sometimes!), and I don’t need a new outfit.  More than anything, I appreciate the time I get to spend with my husband, because this time of year, he is so busy with his referee schedule that I barely see him.  I appreciate that he’s a hard worker, but he really is burning the candle at both ends, and it worries me a bit for his health. Having said that, he will be refereeing tomorrow night, so our Valentine’s Day dinner date will have to wait until the weekend.  It’s okay…I’m pretty sure I will still love him by then, if not more!

Valentine’s Day has become so expensive, but also cheapened in how it is approached.  You should buy cards and gifts for those you love because you want to, not because you feel obligated to.  The same can be said about Christmas….it’s become all about money.  Don’t spend money because the commercials and stores tell you that you have to! With the way our society is, and how busy and preoccupied we are with work, family, technology, and social media, why not give the one you love your undivided attention, and write a nice letter telling them how much you love and appreciate them?  Spend time making a romantic dinner.  Go for a walk together.  Turn down the lights, put on some soft music, and dance together. Go for a drive.  Those things can’t wear out.  Those moments can’t be thrown away.  Make memories with each other.

I know that at this point in my life, I try to make a special effort to let my Valentine know how I feel about him every day of the year.  Cards don’t have to wait until a special day.  Candy and flowers don’t have to wait until a special day.  Make every day count, and don’t take each other for granted…..sounds cliche’, but it does hold value.  Make this a great Valentine’s Day, and then make the day after that another great day of love!  And the day after that, and the day after that, and the day after that! Love is in the air!

“Live every moment, Laugh every day, Love beyond words.”

 

Be Happy, Be Kind, Being Strong, Courage, Family, Happiness, Iowa, Laughter, Love, Marshalltown, Iowa, Passion for Living, The Queen of Iowa, Uncategorized

Here’s To The Queen!

I’d like to tell you about The Queen……not the Queen of England, but The Queen of Iowa!  You didn’t know there was one, did you?  This queen is someone I’ve had in my life since I was 19 years old, and has been like a second mother to me, even though I don’t get to see or talk to her much anymore.  I’ve been thinking a lot about her lately…..

Joan Yvonne Wendt Williams…..The Queen.   I will get to why she has that title later, but for now, I want to tell you why she deserves it.  Joan was my mother in-law for 23 years, and is the grandmother to my children.  In fact, I was the one who made her a grandmother for the first time in 1989!  Her son and I may not see eye to eye on much of anything, and the divorce strained the whole family relationship, but I still consider her my family, especially since I’ve lost my own mother.  When you lose your mother, you lose a huge part of yourself. And when you divorce, you also lose another part of your family.

From the first time I met her in 1984, wearing my bathing suit (aghhh!), she was friendly, warm, and loving, and acted like she had known me my whole life.  For the first few years of knowing her, she was in an unhappy situation with her marriage.  Through hard work, she came through it on the other side, stronger, more independent, and happier.  It was hard for her to take that step, but she did it, and she has deserved every day of peace and happiness it has brought her since. She stood up for me several times in some uncomfortable situations during that time period, and I have never thanked her for that, even though I appreciated it so much.  I’m not even sure she would remember doing it because it is so second nature for her to do that sort of thing.

She was raised in a small town in Iowa, married young, as most girls did in the late 1950’s, and raised 4 children.  She lost a child shortly after birth, which I know is still painful for her.  I’ve been to the cemetery with her a few times to place flowers or pinwheels on her daughter’s grave.  She has talked to me about that time, and I could feel the pain myself through her words, even though she was so strong and composed telling me about it.  This is just one of the few things that made her such a strong woman.

Her own mother in-law, Florence, was a good woman, and was good to her too, but…..difficult.  I knew Florence well, and I always got the feeling that no woman would ever be good enough for her sons.  Yet, with Joan…..any man would be lucky to have her!  Joan told me once that she never wanted to be that type of mother in-law to me.  I feel thankful to her for that.  It sure made life easier!

We grew closer over the years, and always enjoyed having a beer and pizza together.  The laughter and friendship we shared can never be replicated with anyone else, but two of my children are now to the age where they can sit down and enjoy a good drink with their grandma and laugh the way we used to.  She and her oldest daughter, Lisa, used to make a trip to see us about twice a year….once in the fall, and once in the spring, when we lived in Kansas.  Lisa would bring her step daughter sometimes, and always had her dog in tow.  It was fun, but Joan hated driving through the Kansas City traffic before getting to our house!  It stressed her out to no end!  The very first thing she would say after her hugs and kisses all around, was, “I need a beer!”  I tried to be fully stocked on beer when Grandma Joan came to visit!

I will never forget the time I heard my 4 year old daughter say, “Oh damnit!” when she dropped something.  I said, “Lily, we don’t say that.”  She looked at me confused, and said, “We don’t?  Grandma Joan says it!”  Now my own  five year old grandson is repeating Great-Grandma Joan’s salty language that he picked up last summer.  Of course, it isn’t appropriate, but I can’t be mad.  In fact, I think it’s pretty funny……if Joan has taught me anything, it is to not be stuffy and unhappy, even when life is hard.  Learn to laugh and let go.  Don’t be angry.  Smile.  Don’t hold grudges.  Have fun.  Don’t take life so serious.  It’s short, so enjoy it.

These days I hear she enjoys her boxed wine while getting her daily fix of Drew Carey and The Price is Right!  One of my daughters was telling me that Grandma loads up her walker with beer, and meets with friends at the Embers, her retirement apartment building, for “coffee.”  I got such a chuckle out of that!  She has always known how to have a good time!  Whether it’s playing bingo, trips to the casino, watching her favorite soap opera or TV show, or “coffee” with her friends, she always has fun!

The last time I saw her, I was able to introduce my husband to her.  She hugged him, and told him that if I loved him, then he was okay in her book!  Before we left, she hugged him again, and told him to “take care of my girl.”  He promised he would.  After we left, he said he wished we could have stayed because he could have sat for a few hours, having a few beers and talking with her!  Now that I’m sick, she continues to check with my daughter to make sure Al is taking good care of me…..he is!  I’m stubborn, but he does as much as I let him do.

Now to her well earned title…….The Queen……in most retirement or assisted living facilities, they will choose a king and queen.  I’m not sure what all goes along with the title, but they get to ride in a parade!  Last year, Joan was chosen as Queen of the Embers.  She got to ride in the parade, and from what the kids tell me, she was ordering people to “bow down.”  I can’t help but laugh, because I can picture it!  Recently, a little girl was introduced to The Queen.  She asked if she was the Queen of Iowa, and my daughter told her yes!  And you know what?  She is!  Beautiful, funny, kind, gracious, friendly, salty, and compassionate……what other qualities do you need in a queen?

Here’s to The Queen!  I love you Joan!