Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Cartakers and cowboy movies

Recently I've been talking a lot to a few friends that are taking care of relatives in health crisis of one type or another. A father with ALS, parents with dementia, a mother with Alzheimer's, a wife going through chemo and radiation, a friend with serious, suicidal depression. All incredibly difficult and emotionally and physically exhausting situations for the afflicted and, to another degree, the caretaker. Not to make light of those suffering the challenges, the needs of the caretakers themselves are often neglected or completely forgotten throughout the crisis. No one intends for that to happen but that's the way it is from what I have observed with these people. In one particular instance, a husband has been visiting his wife of 61 years, in a care facility due to her advanced Alzheimer's, every day, all day until he is kicked out at night. His doctor told him to back off and start taking care of himself more so he can experience life too. The husband is having a difficult time doing that. If he doesn't go every day, all day he feels guilty. Just one example of how this caretaking thing works sometimes. When you love someone it just comes natural I think.

That brings me to the cowboy movies. "SAGEBRUSH THEATRE" was one of my favorite TV shows when I was a kid. On Saturday morning, upon waking at 6am as usual, (much to the sleepy dismay of my hard working, sleep deprived parents) I would grab a quick slice of sugar covered buttered bread and rush over to Hank and Ken's house. Their home, with 7 kids under age 11 was always filled with activity even at that early hour. We'd just hunker down in front of the TV and watch Sagebrush Theatre, the Lone Ranger, Gene Autry, Sky King and finally Roy Rogers. We learned all about life from those cowboy shows it seems sometimes. Bad guys often wore mustaches and wore black hats. Cowgirls were the most beautiful and smartest women ever and always helped their cowboy friends. And, when it comes to caretaking: A horse was the most important part of being a safe and healthy cowboy. Cowboys, always needing a healthy horse to help them automatically knew that when the day was done and the horses work was over, the cowboy would feed and brush and check the horse to make sure their horses needs were taken care of before they ate, washed up or bedded down for the night. That assured them that the horse would be there for them in the morning. The horse took care of them, they took care of the horse. The bad guys didn't always do that and their horses got sick and then the bad guys had to walk.

That's what I learned about caretaking from cowboy movies. I wonder if that holds true for people too?

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Art Prize Grand Rapids

If you have the opportunity to peruse the Art Prize exhibits throughout the downtown area of Grand Rapids, do it. You'll not be disappointed. Every offering is not for everyone's liking but I guess that's the whole idea. Sparking conversation and debate in some cases and reflection and meditation in others. And, simply because apparently art knows no boundaries, outright disdain or disgust. Yeah, this competition covers the entire gambit when it comes to opinions. This event is so far away from when I used to frequent the Grand Rapids Art Museum it boggles my mind. I am not an artist, I am not an art aficionado, I still find some of my favorite works on a church wall or a Norman Rockwell magazine cover print. Never really had time to figure out all the intricate details of the more refined art stuff. Just can't figure it out. Most art forms do not, "bring out my innermost thoughts." No, those thoughts are usually most apparent when I hit my thumb with a hammer. I am impressed, however with the ability and insight of so many people when it comes to a true understanding of the art projects now strewn about the various venues. The oohs, and aahs, and tongue wagging on the streets, in the restaurants and even in the multitude of bars and breweries is varied or polarized. Creating a cacophony of interest and activity. Art? Or is it the people? It definitely is interesting and fun. See you there.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Strength, independence and perseverance

As is my custom, yesterday (Sunday) after church services I went across the street to pay my weekly visit to the final resting place of my parents in the cemetery. A few quiet minutes to reflect on the two people who instilled me with their perspective on living a good, respectful life with integrity. One of the key elements to that kind of life, in their opinion was being independent and self sufficient. Some ways they accomplished that were gardening, fishing, hunting, working multiple jobs, coupons, bargain shopping, accepting their own limitations and not allowing others to do anything for them that they could do themselves. Not always an easy way of life. They thanked God daily for that life. On their knees at home or in church, they prayed honestly and faithfully. They were truly grateful for being together and for what little they had. When my father died my mom was heartbroken but carried on through the rest of her years in the same fashion. She remained a widow because, as she said, it was her job to finish up what they had begun for their family. Someone else might mess up the whole plan. I always chuckled when she said that but admired her tenacity and sense of independence. Making her meager funds last until she passed away was a monumental task. I have first hand knowledge of that. My brother, sister and myself watched over her but she wouldn't allow us to "take charge". No siree! She took care of herself with a passion. It was the way my folks had agreed upon. period!

Brushing off the headstone, replacing the flowers, trimming the grass edges, at least they  let me do that without shooing me away. I honestly think they may even enjoy it. I hope so anyway. I do love them. I can never quite say that enough.
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