“Catholics call it Divine Providence. Some believe it, some don’t. I do”
A friend of mine made that statement today when we were talking and it resonates with me. So many things in my life have put me in a situation that I really didn’t want to be in at the time but that looking back…
Life is funny. Not funny ‘ha ha’… far from that. Funny ironic. Funny odd and unusual. Funny… Karmic.
How I got to where I am today… and why…
I grew up on a farm in western PA. I learned early how to be self sufficient. I learned how to be alone and that, while I would have liked to have friends who came over to my house and who’s house I could go to… having one friend next door that was the only one I was allowed to hang with was okay for the most part. I had my own garden. I did barn work and farm work because it is what you did.
When I had my own house, I continued the garden and with drying clothes on the line. I can grow nearly anything and it was kind of a running joke that I was like Grandma Deniker and I could put a broom straw in the ground and have it magically start to grow.
When I had kids, I learned what it was to have a baby in the NICU. I learned what it was to have a child (or two) with epilepsy. I learned what Nephroptosis is. I learned what osteochondritis is. I learned that my preconceived notions about autism were very very very very wrong.
For me… I learned what it was to gain 80 pounds between having two kids and not really caring so much about much of anything for a long time. I learned what it means to have RA. I learned what it means to work your ass off (literally and figuratively) to train for races, and to lose 55 of the 80 pounds. I learned what it means to have to face having someone you love get diagnosed with a terminal condition. I learned what it is to help someone… watch someone… struggle through declining health. I learned the magic of pandemic. I learned what it is to have to start dealing with hospice. I learned that not all hospice is the same.
When I was terrified by the phone call I got in the elevator in Austin asking me if I was Squirrel’s mother and telling me that she had been taken to the ER by ambulance after having a seizure… I went hunting on FB to find what I could learn in one hell of a hurry. I found a friend there who virtually held my hand through so many tears and fears.
There has to be some kind or irony (or maybe just karma) that several years later, when that same friend was struggling through a diagnosis of RA, it was I who could help her through the tests and the fears and the bullshit that came with that diagnosis.
Squirrel having nephroptosis means that I started a FB group for that little known and little understood condition. I’ve been thanked more than once for providing a place where people can go and talk about the condition honestly.
Loosing 55 pounds while working full time at my current job meant that everyone I worked with was witness to what I was doing and what I was going through. Some people didn’t see me at all between the time I started the journey and when I got to where I am now. The reaction of those people is kind of fun to watch to be honest. But it is the ones I work with day in and day out, side by side, face to face that meant that I could have an impact. At least two people at work have sought me out to ask questions. Health issues mean that they need to make some radical changes. Being able to answer the questions matters.
And here I am, now. In the last three months I’ve had huge changes in my life situation. Bear got sick and started to go down hill. He started to need to not use the stairs as much (at all). He started to need hospice. I learned that hospice can mean imminent (a couple days… a few hours) passing and that they can help ease that passing. But I also learned that it isn’t necessarily the case. I found out that hospice can just be there to make you as comfortable as possible for days/weeks/months/years as you make your last journey… as your family makes that journey with you. I’ve born witness to two family members passing away in the ‘imminent’ use of hospice. Neither of those men were on hospice a week… one was three days, one was two. And then there is Bear. He has been on hospice two months. They have provided us with medical equipment, medication, and support. They will be here for him/us for however long this part of our journey (sorry… I can’t call this one an adventure) takes place.
Learning what I know now means I understand the loneliness, the fear, the abject terror, and the stress that surrounds everything. It also means that I can, maybe, be the shoulder that someone else can use to lean on and learn. My friend… the one who introduced me to Divine Providence… called me yesterday. She told me of one of her other friends… an acquaintance of mine… who is going through some similar journys and she asked if she could share my contact information. This club that I find myself in doesn’t have all that many members, but it has enough new members that maybe I can once again be of help.
I’ve had grand and marvelous dreams over the years on being a great and shining star. My reality is that I really don’t want to climb that ladder. I’m not cut out for the dreams that other people have had for me. I take Douglas Mallock’s poem very much to heart.
Be The Best of Whatever You Are
by Douglas Malloch
If you can’t be a pine on the top of the hill
Be a scrub in the valley–but be
The best little scrub by the side of the rill;
Be a bush if you can’t be a tree.
If you can’t be a bush be a bit of the grass,
And some highway some happier make;
If you can’t be a muskie then just be a bass–
But the liveliest bass in the lake!
We can’t all be captains, we’ve got to be crew,
There’s something for all of us here.
There’s big work to do and there’s lesser to do,
And the task we must do is the near.
If you can’t be a highway then just be a trail,
If you can’t be the sun be a star;
It isn’t by size that you win or you fail–
Be the best of whatever you are!
The other thing that I try hard to keep close to my mind and my heart… I don’t know who said/wrote… but it’s true…
“Helping one person might not change the world but it could change the world for one person”
I might never make a huge and lasting contribution to the great wide somewhere… but if I can help one and that one can help one and we can cast our stones into the water and make our own ripples… then maybe… just maybe.. we have made enough of a difference.
Love and Light