Sunday, July 06, 2008
What Really Matters
Was your celebration of the 4th as wonderful as ours? We drove from Pittsburgh in a grey mucky drizzle, til we hit the Indiana state line. Right then, with fields of corn and soybeans on each side of the highway, the skies parted and the sun appeared! There was some celebrating going on inside our car, for decent visibility!

After we pulled into Tom and Carlotta's driveway, unloaded our stuff and took over a corner of their home, Friday evening was spent on catch up talking, then eating dinner together, with pecan pie and ice cream for dessert. 'Watching fireworks' consisted of glimpses through the neighborhood trees. We weren't there for fireworks.

There was a funny technological moment - Tom and Carlotta have a Wii - something Don and I had heard of but never seen. I tried my hand at bowling, but the fun really started when Tom and Don began to box each other. There was finally a knockout although I won't tell you who won! It was hysterical watching these two grown men gyrating all over the room, literally out of breath punching each other virtually. We may be needing one of those for our grandkids' visits. I can see why they are a big hit in senior citizen homes - you can have a blast with them, while sitting down.

The rest of the weekend was spent practicing for our upcoming retirement. We sat and talked, then we sat and talked, and when we got restless, we moved to another room, or outside, and sat and talked. About the past, good times, good memories; the present - what we were up to, how the kids are, and the future - what's in the plans. Our second night was spent at a local barbeque joint, with T&C's friends, Don and Becky, who are becoming our friends too. These four people have spent the last 35 New Year's Eve's together - quite the feat! Isn't it lovely when you like the friends who like your friends?

We've been friends with Tom and Carlotta for over twenty years. I have to share here that Carlotta was diagnosed about three years ago with early onset alzheimers, and their lives have changed in many ways, big and small. It was Tom's sharing that diagnosis with us that compelled us to jump in the car, after a ten year dry spell in visits, and make the drive to see them two years ago. This visit was soft and dear and wonderful. When you, or someone you care deeply about, is facing something so big, it changes everything. What you once took for granted, and now and then appreciated, becomes so precious. As we sat and listened to Tom and Carlotta telling us that this past year has probably been the best in their marriage, I knew we were the privileged guests at a conference for two on how to live life. A conference on what's really important, and what's not. What to grab ahold of, and what to let slip through our fingers because life is just so precious and fleeting and hard and wonderful and heart-breaking and exquisitely beautiful and painful and hysterical and complicated and impossible to understand and it's easy to miss out on realizing that today is of such incredible value, no matter what it holds. Silverware being neat in the drawers doesn't matter much when you compare it to what does.

What today presents each of us with - we don't always have much freedom to choose that. What we do with it, how we handle it - that's pretty much up to each one of us. It's easy to think you know so much, that you have life all figured out - til you are blessed to spend time with a couple like this, who've been dealt a tough hand, and they've not only been brave, they've chosen not to be bitter, nor keep it to themselves. Rather they've accepted it for what it is, and been humble enough to share it with those around them, opening their lives to allow others to be blessed by being involved in their lives. Sitting on their patio, watching the neighbors come back and forth across their fence, grown-ups, babies, dogs, board games, tools being borrowed and lent - it felt like the best seat at a symphony to sit and take it in. All these people who have become a part of their family since T&C decided to open their doors and share what they're dealing with, rather than keep it to themselves. Good food, good times. Priceless lessons from precious friends.

Tom has become quite the cook in the past couple of years, and he tells me he has a recipe for oven-baked baby back ribs with his own homemade barbeque sauce. Maybe he'll let me share it here with all of you.

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  posted at 6:53 PM

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    Girl Raised in the South

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