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Keeping House in Purgatory

27 Jan

I like to arrange furniture.  Actually, I like to arrange, re-arrange, and flat out design rooms for functionality, efficiency, comfort, and visual delight.  Thankfully I am married to a design junkie as well.  He not only enables my inclinations, but he is a full packaged resource when it comes to any and all of my fancies–whether it be the design or the build.  Sometimes we work together to formulate a new quadrant creation, and sometimes we work as fast as thieves to get our vision to the end product before the other spouse can override the desired change.  All in all, we have loads of fun in either situation.  And we both enjoy keeping a non-cluttered environment where we can rest from the excitement of the world outside, and welcome friends and family to the Bent life as we live it.

Note: For some reason I am really struggling to write this post in English.  My thoughts are being driven by my Spanish speaking mind and translating to the Germanic language is a challenge.  …just something for you, the reader, to keep in mind as you meander through this literary presentation.

In fact, right now I sit in my living room mentally wanting to give into the call of slumber which comes as result of the sun beaming through the window, warming the sofa making the ideal location for an afternoon nap.

my sofa

The sun drenched couch

However, the longing of the mind to rest is being thwarted by the accelerative properties of the caffeine present within the large cup-o-joe I just ingested a few moments ago.  I am also unsure of what the next hour will bring for my weary mind and body, thus the trepidation of the forthcoming is keeping me from the prone position for now.  What might the next hour bring? you ask…

Well, it could mean another trek to the hospital with my son, Cole.  My poor son has suffered so much in these past 3 years, and yet he continues this route with a frequency too consistent too feel as if he has ever caught a real break.  And with him we ride, alongside his struggles, his sufferings, and his visits to the ER.  And as much as he wishes for himself that his cycle of pain, diagnostics, and medicinal ‘Russian Roulette’ would stop, he remains quite sensitive to the infliction his course imposes upon his family.  This is not a course for the faint of heart!  And though I personally feel we are in a Purgatory-like state, he feels as if this IS Hell.  I say, not quite Hell just yet because we are inching ever closer to a proper course of treatment for a decent quality of life.  I say, let us not give up our chores of dusting the furniture and vacuuming the rugs just yet.  This temporary place of torture, I believe is drawing close to its end; But we have been keeping house in this locale for so long now, I can understand why Cole is convinced it is Hell.

Now I must go and evaluate the condition of my son, who is in his room doing his best to distract his mind from the heaviness upon his body.  But before I take my leave from my free therapy of the day, I will properly give thanks to the Roman Catholic religion for providing me with the analogous place of the interim.  Without it, I just might forget where I am and get lost in the idea that we are here, in this moment, forever.

 

Cookie Dough and the Haircut

15 Dec

The Cookie Dough:

Earlier in the week I took a hike with a girlfriend.  We are very close friends and have known each other since our teenaged years.  Why include that information in the intro?  Because it should highlight our deep rooted connection which has been forged by many decades of interaction.  …it should, I hope it does.  So here we were huffing and puffing up a hill when my friend told me of her cookie dough dilemma.  Apparently, several months back she had succumbed to the charms of a young boy and his door-to-door knocking plea of, “please pre-order cookie dough, pay now and I will deliver it to you in a few weeks.”  Being that her children are in the private school sector, she thought this a good opportunity to support the local, public elementary house of education.  And so she handed over her twenty dollars, wrote the boy’s name down, and tucked her anticipation away until the three week marker was set to arrive.  Well, according to her, three weeks has turned into three months.  And her question to me was, “I have his name and I know his school, should I call them and ask for my cookie dough?”  My answer was quick and firm…”No.”

I went on to explain that life is unpredictable (as she too is aware), and as such, impedes upon plans and/or intentions.  I suggested that we don’t know the circumstances surrounding the boy’s life and perhaps, in this instance, he (or his mother and father) could benefit from receiving a little grace.  I also recognized the potential that the boy took her money and also enjoyed her cookies as well.  But my thought is, if we look at the circumstance as if weighing it out on a balance, the extension of grace proved the ‘heavy’.  …’nough said.

The Haircut:

Thursday, (only a few days after solving the ‘cookie dough caper’), I took my son for a haircut.  It was an unplanned excursion (especially as I am the usual coiffeur to the Bent family), and took place because we had to kill some time and he needed a cut.  The little barber shop is located within the Long Beach VA facility and the resident barber is Judy, a woman.  She was on the brink of finishing a cut for an older male veteran, so she offered us a place to sit while we waited.  In a short amount of time Judy and her prevailing customer learned of my son’s “Wounded Warrior” status.  And wouldn’t you know, when the man in the salon chair was finished with his cut he turned to Cole and said, “Son, it would be my honor to buy you your haircut.”  Flabbergasted Cole said, “Are you sure?”  To which the white-bearded man replied, “Yes.  I thank you for your service and it is truly my honor.”  …well he tried to get that out, but honestly he got so choked up the words were having to fight their way out (if you know what I mean).  And of course, me being a sucker for a kind deed and an adherer to the policy of “no one cries alone”, I got watery eyed and was (still am) incredibly blessed by this older military veteran.  Not only because he paid for the haircut, but because the plight of my son made a mark upon this experienced man.  After thanking the stranger for his kind act, Cole carefully stepped into the chair of honor.

Judy proceeded to tell us of her credentials and a few personal accounts of her life, while in process of cutting Cole’s hair.  Once finished under her experienced hands, he asked if he could give her a five dollar tip and then handed her a twenty dollar bill.  She thanked him and handed him back a five.  Now the haircut itself cost $10.00, which the kind stranger had taken care of;  so in truth, Cole should have been given back $15.00, not $5.  I watched this transaction which then jet-propelled my ‘momma bear’ tactile instincts.  Though something within me held my tongue.  It could have been that Judy shared with us that she is a four time cancer survivor who lost her “dream retirement home” because of her medical bills.  She shared with us that the circumstance ended up being more of a blessing to her in the long run, and then gave Cole’s knee a pat and said, “see it was a good thing after all!”  It could have also been that she had another man awaiting her services and there was really no way to tactfully call attention to her monetary error.  Or it could have been that I had the twenty dollar cookie dough advice still fresh within me.

Which ever the case may be, it donned on me (as we were leaving the facility) that most likely she had forgotten that her previous client covered the expenses of her next.  Thus when Cole offered to give her a five dollar tip, his rightful change, from a twenty (considering his haircut cost ten) would have been a five-r.  But it wasn’t until my shower this morning that I was given the true message of the triangular transaction.  You see, I was viewing the circumstance from the perspective of my mommy lens.  And what I thought to be an infraction against my son, was actually an INTENDED double blessing from The Good Lord himself.  As she communicated, Judy’s finances were tight.  And unbeknownst to the stranger, Cole’s spirit was depleted.  In one fail swoop, Judy picked up an extra 10 dollars, and my son received a little boost to the soul from the sincerity of the gentleman.  Both were blessed, just as each one needed.  …Oh how my vision is so impaired!

To that end, the answer to my cookie deprived girlfriend still stands.  In fact, now more emphatically.  As if the two stories are not enough, I have more reason to advise my friend to consider the unknown before taking action.  This past week has been grueling for our family…to say the very least.  The “short” of it (as if I can tell a story short-handed):  We introduced a new medication to Cole’s regimen, last Thursday, which caused several severe adverse reactions.  The one I will focus on is the emotional spiraling which occurred on Monday (after my hike with my friend).  Oh there were other, very obvious, overtly physical, negative affects as well.  But the hopelessness that Cole was left to contend with spun him in the direction of suicidal ideation.  And he attempted to overdose on his pain medication, though his actions were thwarted by the entrance, into the room, of his little sister (who remains ignorant of her brothers actions).  Not a fun place for him, not a fun place for his parents (my husband and I).

Unfortunately we didn’t put 2 and 2 together that first night, and it wasn’t until Tuesday eve that we realized this new state of low, was directly related to the collision course of the new medication.  Now I beg of you, as I tell this story, to kindly refrain from offering loads of advice on the subject of suicide ideation…my armor is a bit weary.  The purpose of my sharing is to illuminate the full circle effect of choosing the road of grace, also known as mercy, especially when another option is present.

I will tell you that amidst our tumultuous week, the ‘normals’ of life continue to go on.  In fact, I was the email liaison/coordinator for a magazine photo shoot happening at our house yesterday (Friday), for a London based quarterly.  The photographer, the models, and the stylist were looking to me to ensure the times and locations were set and in place.  Now earlier in the week one of the models called to complain because the schedule for the event had to be tweaked slightly and he was irritated at me as a result.  …keep in mind, my son had just tried to OD…  But you know what I realize, the circumstances of my life do not cause the lives of others to stop.  He was completely in the dark about our familial hardship.  And yes, I could have enlightened him (and his single, no children life), to our heart wrenching scenario…but to do so was (and is) unnecessary.  Let me interject here…I had called upon my “prayer warriors” a few days earlier and my request was simple, “wisdom, please pray for wisdom”.  Not only does my Heavenly Father offer to grant wisdom to those who ask, as written in his word, but he provides the necessary tools for the actions required to enact the wisdom given.  Hallelujah for that.  And at this point in my story is where, for me, I see the fulfillment of prayer most profoundly.

Now back to “the short of it”…haha!

For him (the aforementioned male model), the change in plan was infringing upon his convenience.  And being he was receiving no remuneration for his time, he had every right to be a little testy.  I didn’t need to use my “E ticket” as I call it (E ticket=passport to the very best rides at Disneyland–until the changeover to the ‘all day pass’ was enacted), to override his concerns.  So I apologized and together we worked out a viable plan which ended up being the best choice for all involved.  After all, the beauty of gaining in years is that one is also gaining in wisdom (hopefully).  Now what good would all my wisdom be if it were left as an untapped resource!

Ok, ok…truth be told, the older I get the less I know.  Though there is one lesson life has been teaching me over and over again:

“Much grace I must give, for much grace I often require.”

Living with “No”

20 Sep

It wasn’t too long ago that my husband and I were living with, “Yes.”  And with, Yes, came some fun opportunities.  Hollywood parties, cavorting with celebrities.  Travel possibilities.  In fact, Yes is quite fun to be around.  She is very pleasing on the eyes.  Her scent is fresh throughout the day.  Yes is never tired, she is never boring.  She is a grand adventure!  The morning was exciting to wake up to, while she made our life her home.  But then slowly, one packed suitcase at a time, she began her move away from our world.  Oh she was kind about her departure.  Never once did she utter an unkind word.  She left no abrasive lesions upon us, and even her scent lingered for a while–long after her goodbye was said.  I miss her as our house guest.  Her presence brought sunshine when the sky provided none.  She, was a friend I like to have.  “Yes” is good company.

…now we are living with “No.”

No, is not so bad.  He, too, is not unkind.  Nor is he selfish.  But No, is blase.  He bears no scent.  He shines no light.  Being with him provides no adventure.  And travel does not seem to be to his liking.  And while he is a part of our life, our chores seem more abundant.  The spring in our step not so springy.  The gray of the day permeates, and sleep does not bring sufficient rest.  Though I would prefer to exchange his presence for his predecessor, it seems the good Lord has it in His will for us to entertain the present house guest a while longer (another aspect to No is the end of his stay is occluded, thus leaving us in the dark as to when he departs).

I honestly wouldn’t mind his living with us so much, but while having him here I have picked up certain habits that I’m not too fond of.  For instance, while living with Yes, I was motivated to care for myself and invest in activities that provoked excitement.  Waking up to No every day, I am struggling to even remember what those things were that used to motivate me.  Funny thing is, No doesn’t take up too much space but his stature hovers over much of our life.  So much so that I find myself pulling in ear marks of Yes, such as in my clothing, to help offset the drudgery of No.  For instance, I have resurrected my 1970’s floral print pants and am wearing them in circumstances of monotony (such as to the Long Beach VA).  Vintage Floral Pants

I have also taken to wearing a dress while walking the dogs.  Who needs exercise clothing when one can sweat in style!  I admit, the Nike’s are not the best accessory to my Leon Max creations, nor my Brian Bent’s for that matter.  But I am finding a glimmer of joy within the sheer absurdity of how I look as I ambulate, perspire, and shine while ‘Mutt and Jeff’ tag along on leash. 🙂

Fashion by Brian Bent

A Brian Bent original

I even thought I would fool my freeloading boarder by deciding to grow out my hair.  That’s right, my hair grows whether No wants it to or not.  However,  yesterday as I was readying myself to leave the house my daughter shyly asked, “Do you like your hair like that?”  To which I answered, “NO.”  With a sigh of relief she said, “Oh good.”  ‘Oh good’ was all she gave me…obviously the influence of Yes had worn off of even her.

So here I am, living with No.  He is a tough guy to be around.  And to help offset the heaviness of his presence, I am learning how to use new tools.  You know, the ones in the toolbox that are there but one hopes to not have to use.  One such tool is the “art of redirecting.”  That is right, I am redirecting my thoughts to the time of Yes, when I am faced with another No answer.  Another such tool is the “reminder wrench.”  The reminder wrench is used when thoughts of abandonment try to ease their way into my soul.  I take the wrench and use it to remember the word of encouragement from the Holy Word that says, “I shall never leave you nor forsake you” (Deut 31:6).  And, from the 55th chapter of the book of Isaiah:

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
10 As the rain and the snow
come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
12 You will go out in joy
and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and hills
will burst into song before you,
and all the trees of the field
will clap their hands.
13 Instead of the thornbush will grow the juniper,
and instead of briers the myrtle will grow.
This will be for the Lord’s renown,
for an everlasting sign,
that will endure forever.”

The ‘reminder wrench’…a good tool!  I know there are other tools still in the box, untouched.  It could be that I will have to peruse the contents and learn, yet another, instrument of peace, motivation, excitement, and elation before the year is through.  But for now, the ‘redirector’ and the ‘reminder wrench’ are doing the trick.  I have even borrowed a necessary item from my neighbor…the tire pump.  Yep, the tire pump is a good tool to have on hand for when No takes a nap.  Oh the places to go with just a few pumps of air.  More on that next time…

Raleigh bicycle

My Raleigh and Me

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