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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.


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?

0 In musings/ women

Black Friday

It’s 3A.M. Do you know where you children are? Because I’m at Kohl’s launching the start of Black Friday shopping.

Every time I turned on the TV this past week I was reminded that Kohl’s shoppers could begin their holiday shopping at 3A.M. It intrigued me. Would the place be a mad house or deserted except for a few new-hires who could not opt out from working the night shift. I didn’t even need anything. I lack for nothing and I know what I’m getting for Mike. If I ever purchased a gift for him from a mostly clothing store, it’d be a bad gift as far as he was concerned. Plus, both my kids are living California style, cramped living quarters, not a lot of possessions, happy and content. The past few Christmases my kids have given Mike and I gift cards for favorite restaurants. Last year they treated us to Wicked. We loved it.

I mentioned my plan to shop early at the Thanksgiving table and two young women were almost willing to join me. Almost. The rest of the people thought I was crazy. So I did it alone.

Here’s what I learned: traffic is light at 2:45 A.M.. No, it’s nonexistent. I saw my first car only after I crossed into the next town. Three passenger cars and one patrol car, all headed north while I headed south. I wondered if they knew of a better sale. Was I possibly missing out?

When I pulled into the Kohl’s parking lot, I was amazed at how full the parking lot was. My watch said 3:02 A.M. As soon as I walked into the store a pleasant young lady handed me a Kohl’s shopping bag and loudly welcomed me to the store. I asked her if she was here because she wanted to be here or. . . She interrupted me and through a toothy smile she said, “Why, I’m here because it’s my job and I love my job.” With that her eyes began to pierce mine as she tipped her head to the side, if ever so slightly. It was a signal. Code for “that’s my boss standing right over there.” It reminded me of a Seinfeld episode when Kramer decided to earn some money by volunteering to participate in a police line up. Kramer’s nod pointed out the real bad guy! I gratefully, loudly accepted the mesh bag even though I really didn’t want to buy anything. With that my eyes I coded back, “Ohhh, thanks. I get it!”

You could hear laughter all over the store as customers milled around the employees who were anxious to serve. I decided to check out an advertised special for $8.99 scarves. All the scarves were on some sort of sale, so, with my Old Lady Neck getting worse by the year, I decided you can never have enough scarves. I found three for $12 each, retail price: $30. As I headed toward the cashier I paused at the jewelry counter. Within seconds an employee stated, “If you’re shopping for jewelry you’ll need a number.” And with that she placed a printed number “7” in my hand. “Well, I don’t really think I’m going to buy any jewelry. But does this mean there are six people in front of me?” I wondered where they were. “Oh, no,” she continued there’s no wait really, we just need to do it for. . .” her voice trailed off as she smiled and her eyes spoke in code telling me Corporate needed her to report all the waits that took place at the jewelry counter. Actually the only one waiting was the clerk behind the counter who was anxious to show me a selection. I decided now would be a good time to get a larger set of gold hoops. I just hate to disappoint.

I continued to talk to the employee with the numbers since at the moment; there were no takers for “8.” I found out I missed the line outside the door. There had been a mad rush of sorts, afterall. Employees had been given the option to volunteer for the early hours, but in the end, most were assigned a shift that would run from 3 A.M. for as long as 12 hours.

The number lady pointed out two young women behind me who carried flyers with purchases circled in marker and pages selected with sticky notes. They clearly had a strategy with every movement predetermined. “You think this is a lot, you should see our 3-ring binder we have in the car!” the taller one commented. The women, it turned out, had just come from Targets. “Now that was crazy. People camping out on the sidewalk.”

As the number lady and I continued to chat, I mentioned a Cardi’s Furniture commercial this past week. “Oh, you mean the one with the Cardi brother, toting a teddy bear and flannel pajamas while he slept in a Barcalounger? Do you believe it, they were making a big deal of Cardi’s opening early on Black Friday, at 9A.M.! Oh, puleeze,” she rolled her eyes. “I’ll be eating pizza for lunch, courtesy Kohl’s at 9 A.M.”

My new jewelry clerk friend then rang up my purchase of a new pair of earrings and 3 scarves; unknowingly this helped me avoid the ever-lengthening line that snacked its way around the cashiers at the front of the store. She handed me $10 in Kohl’s cash and I immediately wondered if I missed out by not increasing my purchase another mere $25 to earn $10 more of Kohl’s cash.

It was 3:23 A.M. when I saved $152.59. Mike suggested I could have saved all $227.57 if I had stayed in bed but I wouldn’t have missed this sale for anything. It was fun and I was tucked back in my bed at 3:57. Next year? I might have to try that camping thing. If only I liked to shop.

Do you have any shopping tips or horror stories?

0 In musings

Good Day!

Today is my birthday and that makes it a good day, especially when you’ve had docs, sitting at the end of your bed, say, “Rudy, you really should be dead.” Like the time I walked around with a burst appendix for 2 weeks, continually poking at my side, thinking I had eaten a bad piece of shrimp.

Or the time I was in cardiac failure and prior to surgery, I took a dip in a hot tub (to relax). Something in that one caused my poor cardiologist to hyperventilate and I wondered if I would need to resuscitate him.

Or the time I forgot to put the brake on my Trooper, parked at the top of a hill, and I ran down the hill and CAUGHT it!
Folks, I know one day God will say, “OK, enough with these birthdays.” And that’s the day I also know I’ll meet Jesus, face to face, what a good day that’ll be!

Have a great day!

0 In marriage/ musings

The problem with snoring

Many people think it’s annoying when people around them snore. I’d like to suggest it’s life threatening.

Two weeks ago the police broke into my house because they thought I was dead. I was, in fact, upstairs trying to snooze. Because Mike snores, I wear ear plugs and I’ve really gotten to like them. No thunder storms. No little birdies early in the morning. No police pounding on your door when the water guys who are trying to replace the main in your street need to access to your basement and they know you’re in there because they just talked to you minutes earlier. That’s when they think you’re dead and they justify calling the police to break into your house. That’s embarrassing.

Today I took a snooze again. Probably the second time since I woke to a stranger in a police uniform in my hallway. That tends to make you want to stay up.

After a really nice nap, and it was a long one since my electricity was out, I came downstairs and there were several guys in my backyard wearing orange coats, boots, helmets and stuff. And the look on their face when they saw me inside was priceless. You see they had evacuated the entire neighborhood, a 3 block radius, when I first lay down. I remember telling Pete, my Bichon, to hush. And he actually obeyed this time. The water guys hit the gas line to the house across the street from mine and there was a gas leak! All they could say was, “Lady, you’ve been in there ALL THIS TIME??? Holy ****!”
The street was filled with all sorts of emergency vehicles, fire trucks and my old friends from the police department. . .

You realize this is all Mike’s fault!