Transitions

wheelchair

 

I have post-polio syndrome. Recently, I have transitioned from using leg braces and a walker to being in my power chair full time. It was a hard transition, but with the love and devotion of my beloved Frank, as comfortable as it can be.

We don’t live in an accessible apartment. And although it is spacious enough, driving a chair around presents challenges. The nights are easiest, as I am alone in the living room without my braces on, and usually spend time writing emails to my loved ones.

Post-polio syndrome is a cluster of symptoms which show up 30 – 40 years after the initial diagnosis of polio and after a recovery is made. It includes increasing weakness, extraordinary fatigue, pain, and breathing and swallowing difficulties. I have all of the above.

Transitioning to my power chair meant I had to give up my networking group. It’s a fabulous group of dear friends who promote each other’s Etsy shops and items. It gave me a sense of purpose and enjoyment in my day. And I miss celebrating each other’s successes.

At first I was going to close my shop as well, as it’s difficult to get packages ready to ship now. But not wanting to give up everything that gives me joy, I have chosen to keep it open. I’ll be making more jewelry in March.

But I now have more time to write; maybe not the eloquent prose and poetry of the past, but more honest and straightforward blog posts about my life in the present day.

Tomorrow I am going to my doctor in Foxboro. A special van with a lift picks me up in my wheelchair and transports me to doctor appointments. This is another challenge, as good driving is required of me to stay on the lift and back up onto it when I arrive there or at home.

Recently, we went to my son and daughter-in-law’s baby shower. We visited their home for the first time and enjoyed the day. But I think it’s going to be the last time I can visit, as having to walk up and down the few steps to their breezeway proved to be almost too much for my weakened knees.

This is a post about my disability. The next time I write, it will be about the baby shower and my expected grandson. He’s due in April.

I just want to say there is life after living in a wheelchair. Rich, wonderful, inspirational life that seizes your heart and catches your breath. The people in my life are as loving as before, as helpful as they can be, and I get to laugh each and every day.

So, tonight while I am writing my emails and listening to my iPod, I will relish the quiet of the darkness and solitude which I find so comforting.

To all of you, may you have a wonderful day.

With Love,

Gail

 

 

 

Thanksgiving Eve, 2015

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Dear Friends,

These past few weeks have been some of the most difficult ones for me in a long time. Faced with almost being unable to walk at night without my leg braces, I have been contemplating going into assisted living.

This is a picture of my beloved Frank. He is the love of my life, my best friend, my teammate in life. He and I talked and talked about my situation, and have come up with a few solutions. I thought that this would be my last holidays at home. I thought I would have to leave my love. I can’t predict the future of my disability, but it is progressive.

I know that I must live in the moment, in the present. As much as I fear the future, I have the love and support of Frank and my sons and daughter-in-laws, my two sisters and my brother. When I live in the past I am unhappy. When I project to the future, I am unhappy. But when I live in the present, I feel the bountiful love and beauty that is my life.

I live in a gorgeous apartment out of which I can see the sunshine on the sheer granite cliff across the way dotted by huge oak trees. I have seen deer, owls, and hawks. A fox walking across the lawn in front of our patio door bode a good omen the night before our wedding last year. And the hummingbirds courted me all Summer long.

This is a special Thanksgiving for me. I can no longer cook a meal, but a neighborhood restaurant is providing us with a turkey dinner, delivered by volunteers. We are having two of my sons, and a daughter-in-law for dessert after they have their meal at their father’s. It will be a loving and fun time, full of smiles and laughter. And I will cherish each moment, knowing that one day in the future I will be in an institution.

I’m writing to encourage each and every one of you, whether you are alone on this holiday or surrounded by friends and loved ones, to cherish the moment. Live in the now that is your life, a gift to you only. It is a gift to do with as you please, to make choices, to rejoice in, to grow. Join with me in my joy of the love and the beauty that is this universe and natural world we live in.

There was a meme running around Facebook recently. It said something like, “We live on a blue planet revolving around a ball of fire in an endless universe, and you don’t believe in miracles?”

I’m not religious, but I am very spiritual. I do believe in miracles because I am one. I’ll write more about why this is another time. Just let it suffice to know that we are all miracles, and the answer to our prayers lie within.

On this Thanksgiving Eve, 2015, I am home. I am loved. I feel the gratitude deep within my heart for all of the blessings in my life. None of us can predict the future, but we all have the present moment to live.

And I am still walking.

With that, I’ll say,

Love,

Gail

 

 

 

 

 

On Being an Artist

Being an artist came with the territory in my family. Just like a family business of repairing cars or installing carpet or any other well respected craft, becoming an artist had its ropes to jump and came with an immeasurable amount of self doubt.

My mother was the standard bearer with her painting, her handmade items, and her seemingly endless ability to manipulate material into beautiful creations. She designed and sewed her own clothes, and did so for her daughters as well. At Christmas time our home was filled with her handmade pinecone wreathes, balsam sprays, and most notably her agile figure moving from one project to another until weeks before Christmas the house itself was a work of art. She was beautiful in an exotic way, with long dark wavy hair falling below her shoulders over the red chiffon dress she had made for herself for an annual cocktail party.

My dad was an artist too, having done characatures of his teammates when he played on the high school football team. But shortly after they married he was called up to serve in the Korean war, and knowing now what I know about his missions and how the Marines formed his character, I understand why he no longer had the inclination to create cartoons.

All of my siblings have been, collected, or viewed the world through the prism of an artist. And all have them have had their measure of history of self doubt and nonconformity. I love them dearly.

I am the type of artist who uses words to paint my pictures, and have had two books published. The first was a memoir which took five years in the writing of it. The second is a lifetime collection of poetry. I have always considered myself a poet first, and author second. But I am forging ahead on a second memoir more personal than the first. I write memoir to move through experience in the aftermath and finally purge them from my conscious mind. I imagine it’s much like laying the final brushstroke to an oil painting. It’s finished, move on.

I also design and create handmade jewelry and the discovery for me was that it’s in the act of creating I get most of my satisfaction, whether I sell them or not is important, as is with my books, but not foremost.

I have found a fiancé who supports me in all of my artistic endeavors and understands the heart and mind of my creative soul. I am lucky in that. I am loved and cherished for all of my quirks and faults and self doubt.

However, lately a pall of failure has come over me as I am not succeeding with sharing my art with an audience, whether the memoir, the poetry, or the jewelry. Writers and artists work in isolation, but most want desperately to connect with others and share their creations. This is not the time for me. I go into the Christmas season missing red chiffon, balsam sprays, and a remarkable oil painting of the ocean done live on Star Island in New England.

The only remedy for my malaise is to keep writing and creating. I am stalled on both due to self doubt.

Flash Fiction – Delusional

Sandra’s hands were moving again. As she stood in front of the full length mirror, she watched them.

First, they touched her face. She stared at them while they traced the contours of her cheekbones, then moved toward her ears feeling the curves and sensuality of each nuance of the shapes.

Her fingertips moved down to the buttons of her nightgown. She watched in horror as they slowly slipped her gown off and she was standing in the nude.

She ran, but the hands went with her outside in the rain.

“Delusional,” the doctor frowned, looking at the straightjacketed young woman.

The word is delusional. The word limit is 100.

Are you flashing yet?

See the M3 Blog Flash Fiction Challenge!

http://mommasmoneymatters.com/flash-fiction/

Prose – Life’s Hourly Challenge

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I spent thirty-two years alone.

Sometimes I wonder why, but usually I answer the question with an answer understandable to me. And maybe to others.

I am a writer. I was writing for thirty-two years. It’s true. But there’s more to it than that. There’s more because I’m also a thinker. I needed the silence of my home to think through the demons of my psyche, to untangle my enmeshed past from my present to provide any future I had a promise of happiness. I wasn’t unhappy being alone, I was working hard. I was enjoying the nature I am so in tune with. I was on my patio writing poetry. And thinking.

I still feel the texture of the paper, and the pen in my hand. I see the swirls of half and half in my hot coffee in my morning reverie. I see the nasturtium so full of the orange and yellow they burst out in the pots I had on iron stands. The green of the lawn was as if I was seeing it through a photographic filter, brilliant and lush. My moments of writing were an epiphany and a godsend of nourishment for my soul.

I’m writing in the past tense. I haven’t been out on the patio in the beauty of the nature which is there, nor have I been writing poetry. I am a writer, but I am not writing.

Life gives us an hourly challenge in choices. Over the years alone, I set priorities in place. Perhaps surprisingly, people had always come first, and still do.

One day, I simply decided I wanted and needed to be with a man who would love me, and love being cherished. It wasn’t out of loneliness, but I was missing something I had never had. An intimate equal in all ways. It happened for me; the details aren’t important. What is important are my priorities. I’m not loving instead of writing. I will write again. Instead, my thoughts are with him and a challenge he is facing. I am with him, but we all have independent challenges.

I only hope I can be enough of a support to lighten his burden of worry and take care of him. It’s a simple hope and wish.

This is my hourly challenge.

Prose – The Day for Not Writing Poetry

I don’t know what made today so glorious. Was it sitting in the sunshine on my patio, the sky like an old aggie with the clouds making swirls around the iridescent blue? Was it the lime green of the new growth on the evergreens in contrast with forest green of last winter’s needles? It may have been. It may have been the chipmunk I watched retrieving nuts and berries from a favorite hiding place in the stone wall.

I hand tilled the small strap of garden which I have never used before and planted Sweet Williams seeds there that I had bought; four packs for a dollar. I planted Bleeding Heart seeds in the Portuguese pot, glazed green on the outside that sits on an iron stand; one of two that I bought years ago. The other pot is cobalt blue, and waiting for Nasturtium seeds. The early light hit my retinas just right, feeding me brilliance. Planting the seeds made me feel like I was about to give birth, and hopefully, the evidence will show it, in six to ten days with small sprouts.

I brought my coffee and journal out to the small wrought iron table and chairs, and thought I would write a poem about the whale watch last Summer. But this morning in particular, I was full of the sense of living more than thinking, and it was my choice just to be human and feel, see, hear, smell, and love life. I didn’t want to write about it, in fact, in that state I couldn’t. It wasn’t a time for words.