Category Archives: life lessons
Our son wrote to tell us that an “American tourist” had stolen all of the donation money from the donation box in a temple in Chiang Mai, Thailand recently. They had a picture of the man inside the temple, but hadn’t apprehended him. Our son has always tried to overcome the bad image of American tourists in whatever country he is in. He tries to learn their language and speak to them. He tries to be kind and thoughtful of the culture and the people. He is angry and embarrassed that the behavior of Americans abroad has been so rude, thoughtless, downright crude, and even – to THIS news – criminal.
This feeling of being upset at the behavior of others reflecting on him goes back to when he was a young toddler. We would take him to a restaurant and someone would come over to our table and say something like, “We are SO impressed by the behavior of your son! He’s been a real little gentleman.” We would thank them and they would leave. Our son’s face would turn red as he said, “Other kids are giving me a bad name. They make it so that all people expect ME to act bad.” We told him that we understood his feelings, but that the only thing he could control was how HE acted. It didn’t seem to help much.
He told us he made a donation to the temple that was robbed.
“A sense of humor… is needed armor. Joy in one’s heart and some laughter on one’s lips is a sign that the person down deep has a pretty good grasp of life.” ~ Hugh Sidey
“Against the assault of laughter nothing can stand.” ~ Mark Twain
I don’t know why, but I’m thinking of my dad today.
Part of his life was hard. He fell off a horse when he was three and busted his arm in three places. Back then, the doctors did the best they could, but his left arm was much shorter than his right, curved, and his hand almost useless. He was teased about it in school. He felt bad because they wouldn’t accept him to serve in the military because of it. He learned to use humor as a way to break through people’s initial reaction to his arm. In fact, there were whole patches of time I would forget that others might consider him ‘handicapped.’ He learned to use his humor and wit to make his living- carving out a space writing radio advertising spots. He billed himself as the second worst radio voice in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He went from barely making a living to never having to look for clients again, winning Addy awards – plus a silver one for “Lifetime Achievement.”
He couldn’t control his alcohol consumption and smoked heavily, ending up an alcoholic with emphysema. He joined Alcoholics Anonymous. He learned to carry an oxygen tank.vHe still kept his sense of humor, drawing cartoon drawings of himself, making others laugh. He taught my brother and me to appreciate humor – puns, jokes of all sorts, funny stories, funny situations, sarcasm, and to practice the ability to stand back and look at things, trying to see the funny side. This has been a lifesaver for me.
When he died, he wrote on a scrap of paper, “Remember me laughing.” And I do. I remember him telling stories, laughing so helplessly he could hardly finish. He and the lucky people listening would all be exhausted when he finished – stomachs hurting from laughing, cheeks hurting from smiling so hard – at the stories, but also enjoying the joy we all experienced as he told them.
“A day without laughter is a day wasted.” ~ Charlie Chaplin
“I have always felt that laughter in the face of reality is probably the finest sound there is and will last until the day when the game is called on account of darkness. In this world, a good time to laugh is any time you can.” ~ Linda Ellerbee
We’re slow learners, but we finally got the message – Amber cannot be trusted to go outside by herself until further notice. We also learned that we have to watch her like a hawk in the HOUSE, too, as she was chewing on a plug-in thingie for my husband’s computer this morning before we figured it out…
She LOVES to go outside by herself, but since the poor dog doesn’t have ANYTHING to play with, she has become more and more inventive about finding something to pass the time out there.
Yesterday we decided to get new welcome mats for the front door and the garage door to the house. I put the old ones we were replacing on the floor in the greenhouse where the weed barrier has become torn.
Soon we let Amber out. I went out a few minutes later to find BOTH new welcome mats in the front yard. The one from the front porch had a huge bite out of the top of it. The one we got to scrap our shoes on in the garage was in several pieces.
We put the shock collar on her, got the remote, and agreed that one of us will go out with her on a reasonable schedule. We SHOULD be playing with her and walking around anyway, so it’s just having to own up to our responsibility as owners of a loveable, rambunctious, destructive, energizer bunny type lab puppy.
My dad’s left arm was shorter than his right and his hand was curved, almost useless, from a fall from a horse when he was 3. I almost forgot that he might be a bit challenged from time to time. He never talked about it, never brought attention to it. He just lived with it. We saw a panhandler on the street when we were on vacation when I was a child. He walked up to the man, who had an arm just like his. The man asked for money, holding up his arm. My dad simply held up HIS arm and said, “Get a job.”
My dad loved to tell jokes and stories. He loved puns. He loved sarcasm. He survived by humor when he was a child, dealing with kids on the playground, who made fun of his arm. He made them laugh so hard they finally accepted him and quit bullying.
He brought his family to Tulsa, Oklahoma from Chicago/New York/Long Island with a dream of having his own advertising agency. 25 years later, he won a “Lifetime Achievement Award” for his “Unique contribution to the advertising world in Tulsa, OK” shortly before he died, having supported his family and putting two kids through college.
He came to a class when I was going for a Master’s Degree as a Reading Specialist. My talk in that class was teaching children to listen wisely to advertising. My dad was the guest speaker. He was a bit of a celebrity, billing himself as “Tulsa’s 2nd worst radio voice.” His radio spots got people’s attention because they made you listen, sometimes making you laugh. You always remembered the companies lucky enough to hire him. At the end of the class, he said something to the effect – “It’s fun to write advertising commercials. It’s fun to come and talk to you today. But the thing I love the most about today is getting to watch my daughter give a speech. My daughter is Linda Lewis.” You could have heard a pin drop at the surprise – and then delight – in the room. They erupted in applause and I cried.
My dad was unique. He was ahead of his time. He wanted my brother and me to call him “Jim” because “dad” kind of embarrassed him. He was an only child and didn’t figure he was that great as a dad. He set an example of honesty, integrity, determination and courage in living his life every day. He said, “Remember me laughing.”
I do, Jim, even with tears in my eyes. Happy Father’s Day.
“He didn’t tell me how to live; he lived, and let me watch him do it.” ~Clarence Budington Kelland
Today is our 48th wedding anniversary. We dated for 8 years before we married, so in many ways we think of this as our 56th year together. We hope that – since we have a good start now – we can enjoy MANY more happy years together.
Each year we ask each other if our ‘option’ to share another year is to be renewed. (We don’t take anything for granted.) This morning we agreed that, indeed, we want to spend at LEAST another year together. :0)
I think that many people marry for the wrong reasons. When I married my husband, it was because I wanted to share my LIFE with him, whatever happened, forever. That’s a huge commitment and it should not be entered into lightly. Sometimes we feel very, very close. Other times I want to wring his neck. We’re two very different people. We don’t agree on many things. We don’t even use the same salt. But love overrides all.
We’ve shared everything for 48 years. We built a family together. We have a son who is smarter, braver, and kinder than both of us put together. We wish we could take credit for the man he is, but the truth is we lucked out. We created a daughter who was beautiful, but she died of SIDS at two months of age. The hurt and loss never leave, and changed our lives forever. We’ve shared wonderful things, and intense sorrow. We have celebrated the good things together, and have helped each other deal with many tough things. It’s ‘the two of us against the world.’
I have seen many people treat their spouse terribly. Then, when out in public – after fighting with their spouse – they turn on the smiles to everyone else. I truly believe it should be the opposite. You should treat your spouse with the best you have in you. Concentrate on treating him better than you would treat anyone else. (This doesn’t mean you don’t have disagreements, hurt feelings, anger, etc. After all, you two know each other better than anyone else in the world. You know what buttons to push. Sometimes there are hurt feelings because of the TONE. Sometimes it’s just a look. When you’re this close to someone, great care should be taken.)
I’ve been trying to ‘train’ my husband for years, to no avail. He quotes somebody as saying, “When a woman marries, she thinks she can change him, and he doesn’t. When a man marries, he hopes she’ll never change, and she does.”
Sharing your life with someone is a priceless gift. You should give it at least the same care as you would any priceless gift – care, attention, nurturing, patience…..
So, when he jumped over the back fence with a rose in his teeth, he took my breath away. He still does.
One of the GOOD things about getting older is that you learn to live life at a bit slower pace and NOTICE all the good things around you. My husband and I remark from time to time how GOOD our life is. We have our problems, of course, but so much of our life is really great.
- The fact that we have each other – that we truly love each other, rather than just staying put because separating would be difficult. The things we get angry about are very small, annoying things, things that matter little in the long run.
- We’re happy with the life we’ve built together sharing love for over 56 years, and marriage that will be 48 years next month.
- We created a son who is a delightful individual. Smarter, kinder, and more generous than his parents. A GOOD human being with a good head on his shoulders.
- We love our home on top of our ridge line. We see people as often as we like, unless they’re too far away. We have privacy, a nice home, a great view, and a happy lifestyle.
- We can afford to get a new puppy when our hearts have been broken by the loss of a true friend. We’re retired, so we can devote the time needed to try to raise a well-mannered, happy dog from this ‘energizer bunny heavy ball of fluff with teeth and claws we adopted.
- We can grow flowers to lift our spirits whenever we go outside, and a garden to try to grow healthy veggies, PLUS a planned greenhouse to start them in.
- Our health problems remain ‘fixable’ or ‘controllable’ at this point – a blessing, indeed.
- We have friends and relatives who remind us of all the good in the world.
Happy are We!
I told you that I sliced my finger instead of the roast beef several days ago. It’s been a challenge trying not to get my bandage wet while cooking, cleaning, washing my hair, showering, etc., so I’m moving (and typing) a bit more slowly than usual. I think it’s healing fine. I think I was right on the borderline for needing stitches, so I’m grateful I could bandage it carefully and protect it from further irritation with vet wrap.
I’ll be very glad when I get to what passes for normal. I’m just using band-aids now, so it doesn’t look as dramatic as it did. This episode is like locking your keys in your car. By the time you get the problem solved, it was so unpleasant that you don’t do it again for another 20 years or so…