Headed Up for Thanksgiving…..

One of the reasons we made such a fast trip to Georgia for my mother-in-law’s service was because we were already scheduled to go there for our annual Thanksgiving trip. We’ve only missed it a few times; last year being one of them. Apparently, this is not going to be one of the mild weather stretches so I have sweaters in the suitcase and will put the coat in the car as opposed to the wrap I last carried. It would be nice if we didn’t hit rain  as we have the past two trips. On the other hand, we really don’t have any control over that. One of the nice things though is they did finally open a Chili’s within walking distance of the hotel we stay at. With a 10 (or more) hour drive, it’s so much easier to simply walk over for dinner than head downtown. I suspect, however, Thanksgiving night will be a repeat of previous years when none of the alcohol-serving restaurants will be open. I have mixed feelings of course. After all, people who work there ought to get time with their families. For travelers though, it does leave limited options. In this case, it means fast food or I-Hop, and yes, we do tip extra. I realize as we are moaning about feeling utterly full at the bountiful Thanksgiving meal, we do tend to all say we won’t need to eat later, and yet, that hardly ever seems to be the case.

Anyway, we will have a good time and hopefully this year, no emergency room visits will be required. It wasn’t either of us – my husband’s second cousins got a bit rambunctious in a golf cart whizzing about the property. Just about the moment their mother looked out and commented the speed did not bode well – the event occurred. By the way, we are not talking children or even teens engaged in this and fortunately it was a sprain other than something more serious.

When The Time Comes…..

Serious content alert. We made the drive to Georgia yesterday. My mother-in-law passed away peacefully Saturday after a brief final illness. As I mentioned in my previous post, she had been in assisted living for a while and at age 92, this was not unexpected. The fact is at this age, many of the people who really knew her have already passed. We will be having a small, quiet graveside service later today to put her to rest next to my father-in-law.

In our busy lives, especially when geographically dispersed, it’s often  a question as to how often to visit an older loved one/friend. You know there will be a limit as to number of times available, yet there is also the idea of, “Well, people live longer these days.” Then there is the painful reality when mental abilities begin to deteriorate and the individual is simply no longer able to communicate/interact in the same way. That stage requires an understanding of why reaching out may come with a level of frustration you aren’t always prepared for. Repeated discussions about the weather may be the best you can manage.

These are not easy aspects of life to deal with and with each person who passes from you, it is of course, the good memories you hold to.

Travel Home…..

It’s always nice when travel goes smoothly and especially in this case when we hit the traffic well from MIA to the house. Our schedule didn’t even require us to get up too terribly early for the morning flight.

We certainly checked off a number of blocks for the trip despite the unseasonable chilly temperatures. If all goes well, between the intensity of tasks I accomplished prior to departure, what I managed to get done yesterday, and the line-up for the next two days should get me mostly caught up. We did order pizza last night since going to the grocery store was more effort than we wanted to expend after we made it home. Besides, we did need to have breakfast pizza available for Hubby. He’s all fixed up now and in light of all the wining and dining we did, he will picking up plenty of salad when he goes shopping.

Anyway, other than our usual quick Thanksgiving trip to Georgia to see his family, we will be staying around for a while. We do still want to slip away a couple of days for the hammerhead shark diving in Bimini, although we’ve said that the past two years and haven’t made it happen yet. The main issue is the prime season for that bumps up against all kinds of other “main annual events” of some of the community activities we are involved in.

So, Happy Halloween to everyone and we’ll see if we can get the skeleton into the rocking chair for our minimal decorating. And of course, despite the number of bags of candy I bought, I’ll think, “Oh, maybe we do need a couple more.”

The Paths Children Take….

I’ve posted in the past about how startled we were and what adjustment we went through when we came to accept the degree of our son’s passion for dance. I had an entertaining conversation with a woman I met last night during an event with the opposite side of the coin situation with their daughter. She has very definitely gone into a career that’s not for the fainthearted and not what most women choose. It is financially lucrative though which is also the opposite said of the coin with the world of dance.

Anyway, as I have also mentioned, my whole “female pioneering” aspect of being in the Army was not something my parents expected and until last night I hadn’t remembered this part. Back in the day, males could join the military at age 17 with parental consent and 18 without. Females, however, could not join without parental consent until age 21. Because of me finishing my undergraduate degree a year early, and having an August birthday, that meant I was not actually 21 until a couple of weeks after I was scheduled to receive my commission as a second lieutenant. It required my parents to sign their permission and while Daddy was puzzled, but practical about my choice, Mother expressed some reluctance. In talking through it, she finally agreed providing I didn’t tell “Mamaw” (her mother) she’d agreed. Not a problem, although as it turned out, my grandmother thought it was terrific and would brag about me to her friends. The fact of the matter was she was a feisty woman and had opened her own assay and tax preparation office at a time when that was not commonplace for married women. I don’t know the whole background of it – I’ll have to ask my aunt next time I visit – but as I recall, she always had that office. Daddy learned about tax prep by working part time for her during peak tax season because we didn’t live too far from them and forest fire threats were usually mild until the heart of summer.

So Many Ways To Miscommunicate…..

Serious content alert. Recent situations locally and certainly otherwise have brought to mind the class in Human Communications I took as part of my graduate work. Setting aside the potential for misunderstandings when speaking two actual different languages, the ability for people to get cross-ways over words is so common. For this post, I’m only going to focus on hearing the words “lie” and “liar” thrown out a lot.

People can have flawed memories of a conversation/event/something they read. People can literally hear/read something incorrectly. Two or more people can hear/read the same sentences/sentences and perceive what was said/written differently. In each situation, the listener/reader can be in error yet be convinced they are correct. The issue becomes when someone acts on that misunderstanding and is unwilling to acknowledge he/she could be mistaken.Reluctance to admit error also applies to the individual who may indeed have said/written something in a way open to multiple interpretations without realizing it.

None of the above scenarios include “lies”, but human nature being what it is, if something intense and emotional is involved, “That’s a lie or you’re a liar”, is often easier to say than to admit the possibility of personal mistake. Once those words are spoken, it tends to go in bad directions and it’s difficult to recover. Getting people to take deep breaths and step back from a situation is tricky. This is why having someone mediate can make a difference, although that isn’t always simple. Finding an individual who can objectively listen and effectively point out where miscommunication has occurred is only one factor. Steering/guiding the parties toward genuine understanding can be even more difficult.

In other cases, drawn-out discussions are not required. In the TV series, “Home Improvement”, the two brothers had become at odds over something. In the final part of the episode as they chuckled about it, the exchange was something like: “Glad we worked that out.” “Yeah, Jill [the wife] wanted us to talk about it.” “Nah, putting me in the headlock was better.”

The above example is not to make light of the topic. If you find yourself at the center of turmoil, look first to the possibility you may be in error. Then be willing to accept the other individual/individuals may be emotionally attached to their version and finding a way to “unhook” that is important. By the way, it doesn’t always work. Also, by the way, people most assuredly do often lie, but that’s the subject of other posts.

Home Again…..

Despite the travel with a lot of driving and what in the military we referred to as the “duffel bag drag”, of being in most of the locations for only one night, I did get to catch up with a lot of people. In two cases, I hadn’t seen the friend/friends for years so it was really nice. I have a fair amount to catch up on now that I am back. The next several days are jammed with meetings and tasks, but that was a known when I headed out on the trip.

For my last night one of my other high school friends and I had our traditional dinner at 2Johns Steak and Seafood in Bossier City. It’s a lovely restaurant in a somewhat unlikely location  which everyone has come to understand. Anyway, she recently celebrated her 65th birthday and the birth of her first grandchild on the same day which is quite convenient when you can manage that.

I took one of the early flights out of Shreveport and do greatly appreciate the people who open the snack bar at 4:30 a.m. I appreciate even more the fact whoever they have on duty always seems to be friendly and either a “morning person” or an accomplished actor. The free Wifi worked properly this time to allow me to clear out the numerous emails that I immediately or soon delete. We did have a hold on departure due to weather in Dallas and I was concerned about making the connecting flight. I had to walk quite rapidly and was grateful to be only three tram stops from my new gate. It was a smooth flight though and we landed a few minutes early. Hubby used the cell phone lot for the first time and it worked well.

Sept Trip, Day 6…..

I closed out the visit with friends with a pleasant brunch on the lake. In fact, another couple from their church joined us and I of course gave out book marks. The short drive to my aunt’s house was easy as always, paying close attention to the speed limit sign in going through a couple small towns on the way.

One of my cousins came in not long after I arrived, and her older sister came later. We had plenty to catch up on and my sister and her husband had been for a visit the latter part of July. This was the first time they’d been by for several years. Anyway, the house my aunt is in has been in the family for decades. My maternal grandparents bought in the 1930s. There have been updates over the years and the 80+ year-old tree by the driveway finally did enough damage to the concrete that it was recently taken down. The roots had been causing problems for quite some time and there was always the chance the tree would eventually fall during a storm. As large as it was, even if it fell “away” from the house, it could have been dangerous. It does look odd without the tree, but it was time.

In actuality, there are two houses in the sense the house next door has been occupied by some family member for as long as I can recall. My aunt and uncle were among the occupants before my grandparents passed away and they moved into their house. My cousin, the oldest daughter, and her husband live in it now. Of my five cousins in that group, there are three boys and two girls. The other daughter lives in town about ten minutes away. The oldest boy is maybe 20 minutes away on several acres near where my aunt grew up. They prefer the country life although both still work at their professional jobs. Anyway, it was a good visit and we are close as cousins.

Lots of Back and Forth Planned….

My annual trip to Louisiana is earlier than usual this year because of our planned trip to see the kids and go to NYC in October. While I try to maximize the number of people I see when I go, this year has a couple of extra components added in. Friends whom I haven’t seen for several years have bought a place near Branson and they spend all but the winter months there. The problem is, you literally “can’t get there from here” from a flying perspective. That of course isn’t true, but there are no direct flights from Shreveport to either of the servicing airports near my friends. It seems silly in this day and age, and yet, so it goes. It’s about a 7 hour drive and if I fly it takes about the same amount of time if you add in short flights, yet time changing planes, etc. Anyway, I’ve opted to fly into Shreveport, pick up the car, drive partway to MO, then on in the next day. I’ll spend a few days catching up, head back to Louisiana with an overnight stop to see some of my high school friends who will be in town this year. Brunch the next morning with another set of friends, then over to see my mother’s side of the family in a nearby town. Spend the night there, and back up to see Daddy the following day. Dinner that night with perhaps another old high school friend, more visiting with Daddy, then over to spend the night closer to the airport and have dinner with the other old high school friend at our favorite restaurant. In other words, as many people as I will see, this is not what one can call a restful trip.

I will have intermittent connectivity and will post as I can, but will keep a daily log as I usually do when I travel.

Another New Year….

What will 2018 bring? It’s difficult to know and as I have mentioned, I gave up making resolutions quite some time ago. The short visit with the kids and granddaughter was a bit hectic, but fun of course. Two-and-a-half is on the cusp of so much. The ability to express in words advances, but not yet to the point of being able to explain all those outbursts of frustration. The wanting of a cupcake for breakfast is pretty easy to understand – the sobbing over some other issue once all the usual questions are asked not so much so. On the other hand, it does provide the opportunity for grandparents to say, “Yep, you were like that, too, and this phase will pass”.

I hadn’t actually calculated it before, however, 2018 will be both our 30th wedding anniversary and the kids’ 10th – theirs in August and ours in November. Special trips could be in the planning, although there are personal events which could also occur to impact plans and it might be best to not make any arrangements too far in advance.

Our schedules aren’t likely to slow down a bit and therefore, it would be rather a waste to act as if that’s going to change. At the top of the list though is me doing everything I can to stick with my intention of getting out to dive once a month. Yes, the water will be chilly for a few months, but I have a thicker wetsuit and still more natural insulation that I care for. That generally helps keep me warmer. As for writing news, I’ll talk about that in future posts.

For those who do still make resolutions, think through what you’re considering and be gentle with yourself in the process.

Do People Change?…..

Musing thoughts ahead. I had an interesting discussion the other day about whether people change. As I’ve posted in the past, holidays can provide a chance to reach out to family or friends where estrangement might have occurred. It doesn’t necessarily mean you should, but it is a common thought this time of year. For the sake of this post, let us assume you have a strained relationship you want to considering trying to recover. The first question is who made the break? Second question is was the break acknowledged or simply happened and “isn’t talked about”? If an individual isn’t actually aware of the break, addressing it can be rather awkward. On the other hand, that could also mean it’s easier to deal with because the other person might say, “Of course I didn’t mean to hurt/upset you? – or – “No I’m not upset with you – why should I be?”

Moving into the more complicated situation of both parties being well aware of a strain, now comes the, Do People Change? In all seriousness, that depends on what is meant by change. Maturity usually has an impact. Other life experiences can have an impact. The decision to want to change for whatever reason can have an impact. In some cases, a person doesn’t change exactly, but perhaps perspective does and that can make a big difference. In some strained relationships, time elapsing does allow perspective to change and hurt to diminish. And with diminished hurt – healing can follow.

On the deeper level, do I think genuinely mean people change? No. Do I think people who behave in a mean manner can? That’s another perhaps. After all, isn’t that why we enjoy the movie, “A Christmas Carol”?