One of the greatest gifts we have as humans are friends. Friends lift us up, push us on, and accept us just the way we are, no matter what we do to them. When we were getting ready to move to Florida, our children, ages (six days shy of) 12, 14, and 16, were not thrilled; especially the 16 year old. When we talked about it he said, “Mom, I’ve never had to make a friend in my life. I grew up with them all.” He was kind of a shy guy at that point, though nobody would believe that now, and he was right, he’d never had to “make” a friend. All of his friends had always been a part of our little church in New Jersey. So, I prayed that the Lord would show His faithfulness to provide friends for my boy.
I like homemade gifts. I like to receive them. I like to give them. And, not surprisingly, I like to make them, especially for Christmas. So in October, my sister Lisa and I try to find gifts that we can make for our daughters. We each have three, two biological and one in-law/love or close to it. One year Lisa found a beautiful pattern for a crocheted sweater. It was lovely. Last year I found a wonderfully easy crocheted blanket. It was very pretty and extremely monotonous and I was pretty sure, by the time we were done that Lisa was plotting my murder. She made three blankets. I don’t know why, but I got “hooked” (get it, crochet… ‘hooked’). I made six. Yup, six. One for each daughter, one for my granddaughter, and one for each of my parents. Six.
By the end of it all, I noticed that I had some discomfort in the right side of my neck and my right shoulder. Not one to make a big deal of things, I started sleeping on a neck roll, which was much more comfortable, and pretty much ignored it.
My first indication that something was a muck was with my handwriting. I’ve always liked my handwriting, which is actually just printing. Last July it looked like this…
Pretty nice, right? By this past February it looked like this…
I had tremors in my hand, but ONLY when I was writing. It was uncontrollable and kind of weird. So, I did the only thing that made sense. I Googled symptoms of a brain tumor, because I always like to think of the most pleasant things first.
- Headaches…Only when I’m tired, so No.
- Unexplained nausea or vomiting…No.
- Blurred or double vision…No.
- Loss of peripheral vision…No.
- Gradual loss of sensation in an arm or leg…No.
I was pretty satisfied that I did not have a brain tumor.
I knew a Dr. would put me through a barrage of uncomfortable tests and prescribe drugs. I don’t do well with drugs and nobody likes uncomfortable tests so, I talked to my oily (she sells them), hippy, daughter-in-love, she suggested a chiropractor.
I went to one recommended by family members and told him my list of symptoms, which had now increased.
- Hand tremor only when I write.
- Discomfort in my wrist.
- Pain in my neck (Not that I am one, just that I have one. Okay, okay, both.) all on my right side.
I told them that I was pretty sure I had a pinched nerve in my neck because I had Googled my symptoms and we all know Google is never wrong.
They took x-rays and pictures, and they did a thermo-scan, which showed inflammation in my neck. My husband and I went back the next day for the x-ray results and a consultation.
I did NOT have a pinched nerve in my neck. ALL of the nerves in my neck were pinched. EVERY::SINGLE::ONE. I now make visits to the chiropractor three times a week. I do exercises at home for my neck and my spine, which was slowly swaying to the left, and my hand whose tremors are the direct result of the pinched nerves and not a brain tumor.
In the first week, the pain in my neck was all but gone. In the second week, my shoulders were level. By the third week, my handwriting began to improve. I probably don’t have to tell you, I am now hooked on more than just crocheting. There is a sign in the chiropractor’s office that is my new mantra. The POWER that Made the Body Heals the Body ~ B.J. Palmer
Just a little something to make you smile, on a recent chiropractic visit, while wearing leggings, I felt an updraft and realized I had 6 little holes in my pants 3 on each side right along the seam on my thighs. I sat with my feet flat on the floor and my legs together that day. I’m sure it’s better for your back; but then it’s really not that big a deal.
I have friends. I do. Not surprisingly, some of those friends are bloggers. Right now, three of those blogger friends are participating in The Ultimate Blog Challenge. What is The Ultimate Blog Challenge? Good question! So glad you asked. It is a Challenge requiring that for the entire month of April, you are writing a blog EVERY::SINGLE::DAY!!!
I was asked to participate in this Blog Challenge, but politely declined, partly because I knew we were going to NJ in April with my parents; partly because my students research papers all need to be read and corrected in April; and mostly because the thought of keeping up with a “Challenge” like this scares the bejeeebers out of me.
I’ve had my DNA done and though I am many things, Hawaiian is not one of them. I actually learned this phrase watching Disney’s Lilo and Stitch with my grandchildren. Wanting to make sure Disney got it right, I looked it up and found this…
” ‘Ohana means family (in an extended sense of the term, including blood-related, adoptive or intentional). The concept emphasizes that families are bound together and members must cooperate and remember one another.” ~ Wikipedia
“…remember one another,” no phrase could be more fitting.
Last week my husband and I had the opportunity to bring my parents back to our home state of New Jersey to visit family. Each of my parents has one sibling there, my Dad’s only remaining brother and my Mom’s sister. Dad is one of 15 children, 12 from my grandfather’s first marriage (can hardly imagine why his first wife died) and 3 from his second marriage. My Dad is in the middle of the second batch. Mom is the youngest of 3, all girls. They are all getting older and enjoy their time together no matter how brief the visit.
We flew from Orlando to Newark. I love my home state and no matter where I live, I think NJ will always have a sense of “home” to me, but guys, I have to say, the highways there are really dirty. We saw beautiful forsythia bushes along Rte. 78 in Newark that looked like they were being fertilized with newspapers and beer cans. It was a sad and sorry sight. Our first stop was our hotel, the beautiful Red Roof Inn in Parsippany on Rte. 46 and yes, I am being facetious. For those that don’t know, it’s an inexpensive hotel which we remembered as being fairly new when we lived there. Of course, that was 20 years ago. Still, it was clean and the beds were very comfortable, so we were fine. The cyclone fence down the median of Rte. 46 was a bit of an eyesore, but that’s probably just me.
First sibling visit, Aunt Lois, Mom’s older sister. Aunt Lois lives with her daughter, my cousin, Donna. Fun fact, Mom and both of her sisters all had daughters within 6 weeks of each other. Aunt Nancy had my cousin, Cher the end of August; Mom had me mid-October; and Aunt Lois had Donna the beginning of November. Each of us girls are now happily caring for each of our mothers in one way or another, just like our mother’s cared for their mother. Though Grandma Moon lived with my parents, Aunt Nancy and Aunt Lois were still a part of her life. It’s what we were taught as family.
After breakfast on our second day, we drove by our old neighborhood, Grove Place in Whippany. It has changed some, but all of the houses are still there and mostly familiar. We recalled who lived in each when we lived there. Most of the neighbors have moved on or passed on, a few are still owned by the original family. Amazingly, the neighbors on either side of our house are originals. We stopped in for a surprise visit to one of them. It was only 9:00 am and though they were still in their pajamas, they invited us into their living room and we remembered life as we knew it back then. It was a brief, but wonderful visit!
From Whippany to Ledgewood to see my Dad’s brother, Uncle Nick and his wife, Aunt Irma, probably one of the funniest women I know. My cousin Robert and his wife Anna were also there, because they, too, are now caregivers. When asked about food, we told them a light snack would be fine, but they are Italian, and there is no such thing. So we ate and we talked. We laughed and we reminisced. My Dad and his brother had some time to themselves sitting on the couch and talking about life as they now know it. It was precious. It is family.
A quick nap at the hotel and off to dinner at our old home in Boonton, now owned by Cliff’s sister, Carrie and her husband, Greg. When we lived in Boonton, we owned this house together. They lived upstairs, we lived down, one house, two families, and only two bathrooms. All the neighbors knew was that there were 9 children in that house and none of them went to school. They were never sure who belonged to who, but they were always the best of neighbors. When we moved to Florida, the Babcocks bought us out and I’m so glad they did. Though it’s different from when we were there, it’s still the house where we raised our family and still filled with the precious people we did life with.
Our last day included breakfast with my sister Jeannine, her husband Dave, and their daughter, Melody. Followed by another nap, and lunch with a bunch of friends that we went to church with, because they, too are family in the purest sense of ‘Ohana.
In each visit we came together to remember. We came together because we are drawn together. We came together because we are family, all of us…together. Because whatever else you may call it, family really is a very big deal!
Over the course of the last year or so, I made a very disturbing discovery. My gut can no longer tolerate one of my favorite and most pleasurable, to me, food groups…sugar. I don’t know why and, evidently, neither does anyone else. But, there it is. When I’m thinking like a mature, responsible adult, I know this is in my best interest. But, I don’t think like that very often, especially when it comes to food.
In my lifetime I have been many things, some chosen by me, some dumped in my lap, and a few gifted from the Lord. Back in 2010, I was a census taker. I chose this one. I thought it would be fun and to some degree it was. I enjoy meeting and talking to people, so I signed up. The pay wasn’t bad, my co-census takers were nice enough, and I got to work in the general area of my home. One woman in our group got to do a large, beautiful, gated community exclusively, mostly because she lived there and knew the gatekeepers. It really does help to know people, high places or not. Me, I was assigned a few nice areas, some desolate areas, and the occasional really weird place. I don’t know any gatekeepers.
After some training meetings and a security clearance, we were sent out. We were not sent out two-by-two, in fact, we were not allowed to bring anyone with us. So I was, knocking on strangers doors in desolate areas, occasional weird places, meeting occasional weird people, and a few large pitbulls, all alone. Not the safest job I’ve ever had.
At first, I was fine. I had a couple of really nice neighborhoods. I still decided it would be safer not to venture into anyone’s home, but to ask all of my questions standing outside the front door. We were told to introduce ourselves at the door or as we were walking onto the property if a person was outside.
“Hi, my name is Roxanne and I’m with the Census Bureau. I’d like to ask you a few questions.” That was our sch-peel. We were told to be friendly and non-threatening. Of course, the homes and people we were approaching had no such rules.
The initial really nice neighborhoods were easy. People understood the importance of the census and were fine with my questions. I did run into a few stay-at-home Dads, asking my advice about their children but, overall, it went well. The next week was a little more interesting. I had a few houses with very long dirt road driveways that were more than a little bit creepy. I didn’t like these properties. You can’t see what you’re getting into from the road.
The first one brought me about a half mile into the property and opened on a ramshackle home, with a swayback roof, and a lot of land. I was hesitant. Then I saw a man on his tractor, mowing. I opened my car door and started to get out, thinking I could speak to him outside the house and within sprinting distance of my car. I proceeded to leave the safety of my vehicle. At this point, I would like to take a moment and “Thank God” for the gift of peripheral vision; for there, out of the corner of my eye, emerging from the woods at break-neck speed was a large pit bull. He was obviously very fond of his many, many teeth because he was showing me all of them. I jumped back in my car, once again grateful for my gift of forgetfulness in locking the door, and I waited. Soon he and his very white, very large teeth were on the other side of my window, greeting me rather ferociously. The owner heard the noise and came to my car. For all the teeth the dog had, his owner had none, and he chewed tobacco. I don’t know how. He answered my questions, the dog chewed on my tires, and I silently prayed that they really were steel-belted.
My favorite “visit” was in an older neighborhood to a home that belonged to Mr. Johnson and his sister, Marilyn. They were sitting on their front porch. As I walked up the driveway introducing myself, I heard Mr. Johnson ask, “Why would the Census Bureau send a pretty little thing like you out to ask their questions?”
My answer,”I guess so that little old men like you will answer them.”
“Fair enough,” said Mr. Johnson. “Ask away.”
They were both in their late 70’s, and though Marilyn had never married they had different last names. I had to ask. It seems Mr. Johnson, aka Fred, met and fell in love with a very large woman a few years ago. He asked her to marry him and she said she would, but only if he changed his last name to hers. He agreed. They married. It didn’t work out. They divorced. And Fred is now contentedly living his life as, “Mr. Johnson”. Fred tried to tell me she married him for his money, but Marilyn assured me he had none. They told me their life story. I sat on their front porch, drinking sweet tea and listening. I thoroughly enjoyed Fred and Marilyn. It’s almost 2020! I’m thinking maybe I’ll be a census taker again, but if not, it’s really not that big a deal.
We aren’t big people, but we are a big family.
My Dad is one of fifteen, twelve are half-siblings most of which have passed. I think only two of Dad’s half sisters are still with us, but I have a myriad of cousins who I’ve only ever “met” on facebook. Of his two full-blooded brothers, only his older brother Nick, his wife, their son and his family, are still with us. The younger brother, Guiseppi, Uncle Joe to us, passed three years ago. My Dad’s family is big but, with the exception of his brother Nick and his family, not very close.
My Mom is only one of three. Her two sisters are still with us and I have five cousins from them, all girls but one. We are all far from one another, but still keep in touch. But, somehow, on Mom’s side there is more…so much more…for there are many Moons.
The first Moons in America were not great travelers. When they came over from Ireland in the mid 1600’s, they essentially got off the boat in New York, found their way to northeastern Pennsylvania, found a nice chunk of wilderness and settled there. This chunk of land was known as Moon Road. It is still Moon Road and, until a few decades ago, all of it was owned by the Moons and their descendants. Until the mid 20th century, the Moons lived there, farmed there, raised their families there, and died there.
My grandparents generation, began the great migration to life in the city and, I’m guessing, better job opportunities. They sent their children back to “The Farm” every summer when school was out and they all had to work. All of the little Moons stayed with their grandmother, who was a more-than-a-little-bit cranky old woman who hid watermelons under her bed; a pretty clear indication that there was a little more than just ‘crankiness’ going on. Of course, having all of her five children, send their children to live with her for an entire summer might have something to do with that. She fed them all pancakes. Pancakes for breakfast. Pancakes for lunch. Pancakes for dinner. She fed them and set them all loose in the woods, the hills, and the neighboring farms. When they were thirsty they drank from the spring, which, as far as I know, is still there today and provides the freshest, cleanest, coldest water I’ve ever tasted. It was those summers that bound the little Moons, not just as cousins, but as so much more.
My Mom and her ‘cousin’ Bonnie are a testimony to this bonding. They each have been a part of the other’s life since those days in Pennsylvania. I remember visiting ‘Aunt’ Bonnie for as long as I have memories. She remembers me for longer than I have memories. Since she and her husband, Uncle Fred, didn’t live far from us and since all but one of Aunt Bonnie’s kids were the same age as my Mom’s kids, we would visit almost weekly. Eventually, Aunt Bonnie and Uncle Fred took their kids and went back to Moon Road. We would still visit, though not as often. Time and distance became a factor. When we did visit, Mom and Aunt Bonnie would set us kids loose in the woods and hills and we would drink from the spring. The Moon blood still flowing through generations.
Today, though they live many miles apart, with a little help, they still manage their visits almost yearly. They always pick up right where they left off, as if they’re visits were still weekly. They have managed these visits for the good part of 70 years. I’m thinking, hoping, they will manage them for many more. They are a very big deal.