0 In aging/ musings/ Rudy Wilson Galdonik

Blueberries and Balsam — finishing well in New Hampshire

I’ve always wondered about my funeral. First, for any conversation to take place, two or more people will need to show. I’ve got two kids. They’ve got spouses, plus M might still be around, so I choose not to dwell on attendance. Rather, I wonder will people talk about the struggles? The challenges? Will they reminisce the antics? The time I slept through a gas leak and neighborhood evacuation? That time in the airport with the escalator ? Only a few close family members know that story. Will they laugh? I hope they will laugh.

If people laugh at my funeral, then, I will have lived a life

well done.

My first husband’s funeral was quiet, solemn. He died way too young. We were new in town. Moving boxes were still tucked in the corners of most rooms. So I threw a funeral in a majestic white Georgian with a large circular drive that was only a block from town.

When we arrived in our new home we didn’t look for a church. The cancer showed up the same week. It moved too swiftly. There was no time to look for a church. Without that connection, the only music at my husband’s funeral was a scratchy recording of a pipe organ that suggested Frankenstein lay somewhere in the bowels of the parlor’s dark basement. I hated that music. It suggested I had let my husband down. He deserved a party to celebrate his life.

Maybe my funeral hang up is because I should never have lived to see my thirtieth birthday. I was born with a congenital heart defect at a time when the only heart lung machine was a milk pump from a dairy farm and beer hose which hooked desperately ill children up to one of their parents as their only source of oxygen. (If neither parent was a viable option, compatible prisoners were offered time off to volunteer!) This system, cross-circulation, gave doctors 5 minutes to operate on a living, beating heart. Growing up, I remember the fear in my mother’s eyes whenever I pushed my limits. I wonder now if she ever contemplated my funeral during that time.

But I was one of the lucky ones. I was 24, a newlywed, before my heart began to fail. My first corrective surgery was the day before my 26th birthday.

Life is a challenge. Life is interesting. Life sometimes brings you to your knees in anguish and pain. But life is also full of blessings, joy and laughter. And I believe we have a choice – and I choose joy. I choose laughter.

Kids make me laugh. I’ve been blessed with two. And there’s M. Six weeks after my first husband died, I lay the local paper across the kitchen table and I asked, “Where do You want me to go?” And I felt led to a tiny little church that worshiped in a rented dank and dusty Mason’s Hall. M was one of the founding members of that church and his marriage had already dissolved before I arrived. During our first conversation, I knew God had plans for us as a couple – but that’s a blog post all it’s own. But the story still makes me laugh.

hiking_trail_1-jpg

God is in the details and I believe He is in the details of the journey that’s about to unfold. M is approaching retirement. We are moving to the woods — the hills of New Hampshire, where my hope and prayer is that I will finish well.

Join me on this journey, where I will uplift and encourage and share lessons learned for those who have wondered,

Is this all there is? Is this what it means to finish well?

 

0 In humor/ musings

What does your ringtone say about you?

For years I’ve hated my cell phone. It always seemed to ring at the most inopportune times: while it’s buried in my purse on the backseat of my car, while it’s finally my turn at the checkout, when I’m in the middle of a hard conversation.

Then I realized my lame, preloaded ringtone was a huge factor.

I needed something that would make me and others laugh. Sic ‘Em on a Chicken – I  found a song that not only makes me laugh, it’s about a dog named Pete.  I have a bichon named Pete.  I figured this was a sign from God.  So, I purchased the song and now whenever my phone rings I chuckle before I say “hello.”

But ringtones are for more than just phone calls.

Every morning I get an alarm reminding me to call my 92-year-old mom. She came to this country from Germany to marry my dad and she still has a thick German accent. So, I purchased a German beer-garden song and that’s my favorite alarm.

 

0 In aging/ heart stuff/ humor/ misc./ musings

One Hour Kidney Cancer

I got kidney cancer last night. Fortunately, the disease only lasted an hour. The fact that I was the diagnostician had something to do with the length of the disease, but what else could I suspect when, getting ready for bed, the toilet water looked liked I had hemorrhaged? Then I realized these symptoms had been building for the last couple of days. Since I had no other symptoms typical of a UTI, kidney cancer just plain made sense.

As I lay in bed, trying to wrap my mind around my diagnosis, I wondered when I would find the time to pee in a bucket at my doc’s office, only to make it official. Then, my husband Mike showed up for bed. At first I didn’t tell him. I wanted to shield him from the pain. He likes me, or at least he tells me that a lot. Finally, I decided it wasn’t fair to keep the news from him. So, I sat up in bed and announced, “Mike, there’s blood in my urine.” For a moment he was despondent.  I like that in a man. Then he paused. “Ahhh, Rudy, do you think it could have something to do with the beets?” Oops!  It’s true. About a week ago, I started drinking a daily glass of beet juice. And that was around the same time my urine manifested a funny, much darker and robust color. A fellow heart patient had reported online that she experienced wonderful cardiac symptom improvements with daily beet juice, so I had decided to give it a try. As Mike readied himself for bed, I googled “drinking beet juice” and sure ’nuff, there on WebMD, the last sentence of a 5 page article mentioned an eery symptom of blood-like pee. Oh, well. . .

Here’s the really good news, when I climbed into bed before Mike arrived and subsequently cured me, I whispered a prayer to Jesus and it went something like this: “It’ll be ok, Jesus. I know we’re in this together.”

Have you ever had a scare, unfounded or real? And did you invite Jesus to walk alongside you?

2 In heart stuff/ recipes/ tips/ women

Providing Meals for a Family in Crisis

I was recently invited to provide a meal for a local family following the daughter’s serious car accident. The mother would be spending significant time away from home, so, friends, neighbors, and even strangers volunteered to provide meals for the remaining family members. It’s a privilege to help in this way and it reminded me of the times my family has been the recipient of this incredible kindness.

Meals can be organized by the website: http://www.takethemameal.com.

Tips for Providing Meals for a Family in Crisis:

Designate one person (a close friend, aquaintance or available family member) as the key contact person. This person can answer questions that people providing meals may have. Families facing a medical crisis may not have the time, energy, or availability to speak with everyone.

What should this contact person do?

  • Set up a schedule for food donations on http://www.takethemamealcom. Base the schedule on the family’s needs. For example, the family may only want meals delivered on weekdays.
  • Advise volunteers of food preferences and/or allergies.
  • Indicate the best time for delivery.
  • Advise volunteers where food should be left if no one is home at the time of the delivery.
  • Indicate if the family has room for any freezer items.
  • Give directions to people who need them.
  • Provide the family with a contact list of who will be coming by.
  • Cancel food donations when the family no longer needs help.  Consider, as circumstanses permit, phasing out the schedule rather than going from 7 days a week delivery to no deliveries.

If using www.takethemameal.com, several of the above listed details are automatically handled by the website, which makes it a great time saver. Additionally, volunteers can see what foods are being provided. This allows for greater variety.

Tips for those volunteering to provide food:

  • Deliver food in disposable containers: plasticware, ziplock bags, covered aluminum trays or pans. While your dishes may be beautiful, it places an added burden on the family to return them and keep them from being broken.  Also, young children may be the ones cleaning up after the meal. This enables them to help but you may not want a small child washing your favorite casserole dish.
  • Leave minimal preparation for the family. Salad?  Send a pre-washed bag of lettuce. Remember all the fixings.  Include extras such as cucumber slices, cherry tomatoes, carrot sticks and a box of croutons.  Don’t forget bottled salad dressing(s).
  • Include written warming directions, if necessary.  Don’t plan on giving verbal directions at the door – the person who answers the door may have never stepped foot in a kitchen. Also, there may not be anyone home at the time of your arrival and you may need to leave your food at a pre-designated place.
  • Consider weather and the age/demographics of the family when planning your meal. For example – cold salads might be appreciated on hot summer days. A family with lots of kids? They might prefer chicken nuggets to your favorite Aunt Lucy’s brussel sprout souflé.
  • Delivery of ice cream or frozen foods should only be made if you know someone will be home to accept them and if the family has room in their freezer.
  • Do not overfill containers.  Place containers that could spill while being transported on a damp towel in a larger pan or tray. This will avoid any unwanted spills in your vehicle.
  • Include snack foods like cookies, fresh fruit. Consider items that could be eaten at breakfast, too.
  • Do not overstay your welcome when delivering. Send card(s) or use online methods to let the family know you are thinking of them.

Do not feel you have to be a gourmet cook to contribute – your contribution is a wonderful gift from the heart. The family facing a medical crisis will appreciate your generosity beyond measure.

0 In heart stuff/ humor/ Rudy Wilson Galdonik

Omi Tells a Joke

Rudy Wilson Galdonik's mother tells a joke

I was once interviewed by a college student who was doing a paper on the power of humor and heart disease. His mom had suffered a heart attack and this topic was near and dear to his heart. It’s near and dear to my broken and defective heart as well.

Our conversation included how humor and joke telling differs. Both are effective but for me, joke telling is much harder. It requires memory (or at least it should), timing and effective delivery. I prefer telling stories. Funny stories.

But then I thought of my own mom. She loves telling jokes but it’s her lack of delivery skills that makes them so funny. Enjoy.

My mom has since passed away but whenever I really miss her, I visit this video and it always makes me smile.