Monday, January 29, 2018

A View of Life as a Perennial

Thank you readers for your responses to my last blog, 

Look out Millennials
We’re still here – the Perennials.  

I replied to their emails with a simple question, which perennial might you be?

Marilyn's response to being a perennial reads, "I am probably a daisy--I like yellow and white--perky, uplifting, energetic. (The flower, not me--lol.)  Like you, I have a funny story about aging and teaching. I was filling in for a teacher at Hutch High. One class was all freshman, mostly girls. I spent extra time with a girl who just needed to talk. Just before they left, she told me, 'When I get old I hope I'm skinny, just like you!' Hilarious!"  

Indeed as perennials we have much to laugh about.  

Judy replied, "When I saw the pictures of the Iris  
I went down the memory freeway to mom. She raised Irises for the fair each year, and knew all the names and colors of the flowers.  I guess I would be an Aster that blooms in the fall, lives in the desert and  other climates and is purple."

Vicki said, "I am an Iris and enjoying this stage of life most of all."  While Nancy responded with, "I love the Iris, but the Naked Ladies always amaze me and I love their name, too!"

Mexican Petunia

While wandering off on a color tangent of favorite flowers, I chuckled. thinking that my sister, Jonya, could be "Mexican Petunia." They are hardy, bloom everyday throughout the warm months, and propagate year to year to fill the garden with color. 

In a whimsy I pictured myself as a yellow-eyed white daisy lightly blowing in the wind, but a peak out the window shifted my focus to a perennial in my garden that has been a part of my life since childhood. My grandmother would cut stems of "never die' from her rock  garden every summer and give them to me to plant at home.  From our childhood home on "H" st. to the farm where my parents moved, the 'never die' plant moved with us.  

On the farm it thrived on the west side of the house even when the Bermuda took over the garden, but on the southeast corner it enjoyed a spectacular life in a rock garden with many rocks and sea shells we collected from our trips.  

As I moved around over the decades I often cut off stems and planted them wherever I lived, never realizing that "never die" was best known as Sedum. The Sedum I planted from Kansas to Texas is best known as "Autumn Joy." 

The Autumn Joy sedum is also an entertainer. Throughout the summer months a green leaf can be squeezed and turned into the appearance of a "frog's tongue" much to the delight of children.  (Directions to follow this summer.)

My  grandmother's naming of the 'never die' plant was close to correct-- it can survive through periods of drought because it stores water in its leaves. Even in the winter it can stand up against the snow and winter winds  while showing another side to its beauty.

As perennials we are learning to accept another side of the beauty of living a long fulling life. 

Friday, January 19, 2018

Look out Millennials

Look out Millennials—
We’re still here – the Perennials.
You may know us as grandparents or Baby Boomers,
But as you can see we’re no longer booming onto the scene.
I only hope and pray that many of you will live this long.

Perennials are not the new 40 or 50 as some might wish.
To be honest we are older if not old.
We aspire to age gracefully and contribute to society,
But as perennials we can bloom again and again until the winter is too bitter.
I only hope and pray that many of you will live this long.

After reading this article in the Washington Post,  In Search of a Word,  I smiled and felt invigorated about my age. My eyes were opened to a new metaphor about growing older, and older. I can proudly say that I am a “perennial.” Each day and each season I can begin again, if I care for my body physically and mentally.

Naked ladies or Surprise Lilies 

In my late forties when one of my seventh grade students said that I must be the same age as the math teacher on our team, Mrs. L., I danced a happy step and laughingly replied, “Absolutely.” On our planning period that day, I laughed all the way down the hallway to Mrs. L’s room.  The thirty year old teacher didn’t think the comparison was funny.

In my fifties my back and feet conspired to keep me on the injured and recovering list summer after summer.  Aleve became my ally, our hot tub eased the pain, and I pushed like a thirty year old to play through the pain. Even in my fifties I didn’t have the wisdom to slow down.


In my sixties, one of my students carefully touched my hands and said, “Your hands look like the old ladies hands in the care home where my mother works.” I stopped breathing for a moment then replied with an empathetic smile, “You’re right. They look like my mother’s hands, and I rather like that.” Inside I felt the tears and smiled in recognition that I was aging. And that's a good thing. 

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Savoring Life

There can never be too many cardinals in the world. 

Seven decades have come and gone in my life.  Worry about the future plagued my approaching 7th 0 birthday, nearly blotting out the abundance of life and joy surrounding me.  Consequently, I looked inward reflecting on decades past. Wondering, questioning, seeking answers for the unknown...

Reflecting felt like seeing life in a kaleidoscope. 
Sunshine on my shoulders makes me happy.
Sunshine in my eyes can make me cry.

Earning my driver's license on a slippery cold winter day in 1963 felt crowded by a fear that Russia might
Under the cement slab in our backyard we buried a bomb shelter to save our lives!
drop a bomb on us, and that my family might have to use the bomb shelter we installed in 1962. Do things really change? 

Sunshine on the water looks so lovely.
Sunshine almost always makes me high.

Giving birth to a healthy baby girl will always shine as the brightest moment.

If I had a day that I could give you
I'd give to you the day like today.

Then like the dramatic changes of the kaleidoscope life moved too quickly. I couldn't focus on one thing or keep up with the changes without tears and fortitude.   

The sudden death of my parents in my early 40's shook my soul to the very depths of sorrow and anger, but their deaths somehow created the greatest miracle in our lives--it brought our family together. 

If I had a song that I could sing for you
I'd sing a song to make you feel this way.

I found myself fast-forwarding through the next few decades. The pronoun "I" became we. No matter the changes that our lives encountered, we moved forward with focus and a feeling of gratitude for every day we lived while savoring the friendships  developed; the maturing of our children; the opportunities to travel; and those precious times with family.

Sunshine on my shoulders makes me happy
Sunshine on my eyes can make me cry.

Yes. We've all traveled perilous paths over the mountains and trudged through valleys of sorrow,  together and alone. 
Many of our friends are no longer here to look out the window of life and savor the beauty in nature and God's love that surrounds us. 

Sunshine on the water looks so lovely
Sunshine almost always makes me high.

Time spent reflecting erased my worries of  the "what if's" that sometimes haunt me, but dang it, it didn't erase those lines and bags around my eyes!  

If I had a tale that I could tell you
I'd tell a tale sure to make you smile
If I...

Sunshine on my Shoulders by John Denver

RIP: Betty Roberts Labigang and Juli Carson

*The irony to writing thoughtfully is that for the previous few days gray has been the color of the skies, and I couldn't seem to write clearly. Today, when the sun came out, words flowed into and out of my head like watching the birds soar in the sunshine and blue skies.