Wednesday, July 30, 2014

A Birthday Miracle

It is just past midnight and that makes it officially July 31.  I turn 58 years old today.  For the first time in my life my beloved Mother is not here to tell me my birth story.  I think everyone else in my family got tired of hearing the story, over, over, and over some more.  I NEVER got tired of hearing my story.  In the telling of my story Mama reminded me that my life has a purpose, and that I have value.

I will remind myself of my "Miracle Story," this year.  I have a fabulous imagination.  I'm very grateful for this gift. It helps keep those that I love alive although they have finished their mortal journey.

Mama would start my story, "I wasn't able to get pregnant.  My kidneys didn't work properly so I could not carry a baby to term without significant risk to myself and the child.  My uterus was tissue paper thin, which meant that it could rupture, causing massive hemorhaging, killing the baby and myself."

"When the doctor  told me that I was pregnant he said, 'Mrs. Cheney in cases of severe danger to a Mother or Child such as your pregnancy, most doctor's would recommend aborting the fetus to save the Mother's life.  I'm a staunch Catholic and you are a staunch Mormon.  We do not believe in abortion.  We both will have to exercise our faith.'"

In addition to Mother's other health challenges, she was 38 years old.  That is rather old to be pregnant and delivering a baby.  It was even more dangerous in 1956 when I was born.   There was no mechanized baby monitoring.  There was no ultrasound for diagnostic purposes.

Along the way there were many complications.  Mama had to spend some time in bed to avoid toxemia, which can be stress irritated, and when you don't have two strong functioning kidneys can be quite lethal. 

Toward the end of the pregnancy the doctor discovered that I was turned in breach position.  This is very dangerous.  Especially in a high-risk pregnancy like Mother's.  Mama gathered my Father and her Father together and they gave her a special blessing.  As the blessing progressed Mama felt me turn inside.  She was not surprised at her next doctor visit to discover that indeed, now I was in the proper position for birth.

Mother was in labor for an entire month.  She would have some pretty severe contractions, and quite close together, but then they would stop.  On July 31, 1956, she had been quite miserable all day.  Her Mother was visiting, my Grandma Howard.  Grandma wanted to visit with family that lived in California before she returned to Utah.

Mama took her to a couple of family homes.  As the day progressed Mother became more and more uncomfortable.  She had gone through 7 pregnancies by this time in her life.  Only two of them had resulted in full-term live births. 

Grandma and Mom returned home.   They prepared dinner and gathered the family to kneel in front of their chairs to say a blessing over the food.  As the prayer was being said, Mama felt a pop, and then suddenly she was very wet.

She didn't wait for the prayer to end.  Dashing into the restroom she verified her suspicions.  Her water had broken.  Immediately her rather half hazard labor became quite earnest.  Grandma stayed with my 10 year old brother and my 6 year old sister.  Father drove Mother to the hospital.

One of the neighbors commented later, "I suspected that Wendell was taking Sarah to the hospital.  He seemed in rather a larger hurry than usual."  My Dad was an incredibly cautious driver so the rapidity of his driving was quite different from his normal habits.

The very minute that they stepped into the hospital Mama was whisked away to labor and delivery.  A quick exam showed them that not only was she fully dilated but I was trying to push right down the birthing canal...immediately!

Twenty minutes after Mother and Father entered the hospital, Mama was delivered of a strong, apparently healthy 8 pound baby girl.  Her doctor couldn't make it to the hospital in time to deliver me.  He was stuck in Los Angeles Traffic.  (We were living in Pomona, California at the time).

He arrived when two staff doctor's were finishing all the detail work on Mama.  He stood in the back of the labor and delivery room saying, "You need to understand that ALL birth is a miracle.  This birth, however, is even more of a miracle than usual.  1.  Mrs. Cheney could no longer get pregnant due to a traumatic still-birth 4 years earlier.  2.  Mrs. Cheney has significant kidney problems making pregnancy life threatening.  3.  Mrs. Cheney has a tissue thin uterus so carrying a child to term could very easily be deadly for both her and the baby.  4.  Her baby had been breach position which Mrs. Cheney could not deliver.  Somehow it turned before labor began. 5.  The baby is full-term and eight pounds?

I was a five reason miracle...and my Mother never liked me to forget that.  It has helped me all of my life, especially when life's circumstances are heavy, to remember that I have a purpose, a value to my life. 

Mama's physical self is not on the earth anymore, but her spirit remains with all of us that love her so much (And loving her was ever so easy!)  She would never want me to forget that I am FIVE TYPES OF MIRACLES!  So Mama, I hope I did the story justice.  Thanks for always making me feel like a miracle, a blessing, to you!

One of the miracles in MY life is that I got to have a loving, amazing Mother for 57 years of my life.  Mama you will always be in my life.  I will hear your laughter when your namesake (our youngest daughter) laughs.  I will see your beauty in so many of your grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and great great grandchildren!  I will hear your sense of humor, and your brilliant mind expressed through all your descendants.

I will keep you close to my heart and give thanks for the rest of my life for the gift of such a Mother.  A beloved Mother who told me that I was FIVE TYPES OF MIRACLES!

I sent Mama flowers every year on my birthday.  Now, I will change the tradition.  I will take the flowers to her graveside.  In my mind I will hear the gratitude that she always expressed.  I will enjoy the childlike wonder that she always showed towards the earth's beauty.  Most especially I will remember until we are together again, I LOVE YOU Mother!  Thank you for being so patient, and loving me all of my life!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Jetson's Reality is Here?

Have you ever noticed that science fiction seems to precede science fact?  One example is the cartoon program from my childhood, "The Jetson's."  This futuristic cartoon had people driving flying vehicles, the entire function of the house was controlled by one switch, and when you spoke on the telephone you could see them and they could see you.  Their doggy walked on a treadmill in the house.  They seemed to live above planet terra firma, so the poor doggy couldn't be walked outdoors.

Then came the television program Star Trek, and the multiple series of movies Star Wars.  Each of these produced a futuristic altered version of reality.  At the time it seemed far removed from the reality that I experienced daily.  I was riding in a vehicle firmly attached to the earth.  I listened to my music on the radio, or with a scratchy portable radio.  My home was NOT connected to any sort of technology device, well their was a doorbell, which was sort of a technology thing, right?

Then came the computer.  It didn't change things over night.  It took a few decades for somebody to say, "Hey, let's make this thing smaller than an entire room!  Even longer still was the quantificational explosion of "Smart phones."  Imagine, the same ginormous roomful of computer equipment is now in a small box that can be smaller than my very small hands.

So did our genius inventors follow the movie and television possibilities?  I suppose this could easily turn into a "Which came first, chicken or egg," discussion but that is not so much the purpose of my post.  OK, possibly a little bit of the discussion of my post.

I mean, really, come on, does anybody else who was born in the 20th century ever marvel at the wonders of the twenty FIRST century?  We began the 20th century in horse and carriage, and ended it in airplanes.  That is quite the technological advance, without even discussing the mind blowingly amazing computer advances.

Ooops, I forgot to mention that long before the Jetson's and Star Wars and Star Trek was Flash Gordon.  That movie was made long before I was born but made popular again by the singing group Queen.  So maybe we can also give Queen the credit for the modern age that we live in.

 A challenge for you today.  Stop and think about the marvels of technology that we now take for granted. As a child I thought the telephone was a wonderful item to stay connected to friends near and far.  Now I can visit with dear friends from all over the world in seconds by computer.

In the medical world, we can transplant living organs into living bodies with dying organs.  There is a little computer that diabetics can wear that tracks blood sugars and even gives the injection of a number of insulin you program.  To cope with the pain of severe spinal damage, there is a tiny computer that is placed under the skin of your body.  It has catheters that go into your spine to deliver pain medication more effectively than taking a pain pill.  There are pacemakers to keep your heart beating regularly, there are prosthesis for amputees that can work through your thoughts.  The advances of medical science are exciting to witness.

Still in one of the Star movies (can't remember Star Wars or Star Trek) there was surgery performed with a machine that mended bones or operated on organs without opening the body.  I'm waiting anxiously for that advancement. 

I would also like the "Beam me up Scotty," development.  Just think of how much time we would save and how much money we'd save by beaming in minutes! 

What technological wonder would you like to see developed in our all too real world?

Thursday, July 17, 2014

A Rose by any other Name??

It was a teeny tiny white dress.  It had ribboned embellishments and a silky underdress.  Grandma Howard was excited by the beauty of it.  She picked up the tiny dress and walked to the counter to pay.

As Grandma waited in line she noticed more tiny details.  There was a Peter Pan collar.  Pure and lovely white was the fabric.  Then Grandma noticed the small tag that was sewn into the back of the pretty dress.  It boldly proclaimed in script "A Carol Joy Creation."
She knew that Papa and Mama had chosen a name for their new baby. It was a name to honor both Grandma's. The name that proudly proclaimed the babies name on the hospital certificate was Georgia Leal Cheney. One Grandmother was Lillian Georgina, and the other was Alice Leal. Neither Grandmother liked the name Georgia Leal.

Grandma Cheney had written a long letter to her son Wendell. She explained that there was a distant cousin named George Cheney that had spent most of his life in a mental institution. He was insane. She never wanted her beautiful new Granddaughter to be confused with this poor man.

Grandma Howard presented the tiny present to her daughter and son-in law with the comment, “Look at the name on the tag. Isn't Carol Joy a lovely name? It's much prettier than Georgia Leal, don't you think?

In their faith, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, sometimes nicknamed the “Mormon Church,” infant baptism is not practiced. Instead when a baby is born she is brought before the Congregation and given a name and blessing by her Father.

When that most important Sunday came the family was anxious. Would Wendell name the baby George Leal, or would he name her Carol Joy? As the meeting worked toward the time of blessing Grandma Howard was on pins and needles. The babes Mom chewed impatiently at her fingernails. Her brother Howard fidgeted in his seat. (He wasn't particularly anxious. He just hated sitting still in church for two hours. Especially during August in Southern California. The temperature was probably around 108 degrees, wouldn't YOU fidget?) Carla-Rae blissfully played with her dolly, unaware of any of the drama going on around her.

A collective sigh of relief was exhaled when Wendell stood with a group of men and gave their baby a name and blessing. He named the babe Carol Joy. I don't think he realized that the name he was giving was a large name for his baby to live up to. Carol means “Song of Joy.” So Caroljoy meant “Song of Joy, Joy.”

As the babe grew into a young child she was often reminded, “You are not living up to your name!” Another more positive comment was, “You were given such a lovely name. It fits you so well.” As a young girl Carol Joy was surrounded by music. Her parents sang together, and played lots of records. The radio was almost always playing.

On Monday evenings the entire family would often travel to a music store. There were small vinyl records that were called 33's. The family discovered that there were ten cent vinyls. These were records that were pressed but didn't catch on with the public. With great excitement the erstwhile family would take home their find. Howard and Carla would choreograph a musical song and dance number. They would then teach it to their growing youngest sister. This started when she was two. Howard and Carla were convinced that she was the next Shirley Temple.
Howard played the piano well. He would play and the entire family would sing. This was one of their favorite activities. When friends or family came to visit, Wendell would say, “Sarah, please cook for our guests. Howard, please play the piano for Carla-Rae and Carol-Joy to sing. The guests were a captive audience so the family could practice their skills. Amazingly guests CAME BACK?

Back to Carol-Joy's name and that Shakespearean quote referring to “A rose by any other name would still smell as sweet...” I really have a hard time imagining anyone appreciating the thorn stemmed loveliness if it were named rutabaga, or blestiospk. Rose is such a charming four letter name. It rolls off the tongue as smoothly as its petals. There is no hint of those thorns in the name rose.

A popular song from the 1990's says, “I know you really think that you don't stink but look a little closer baby, roses really smell like pooh, pooh, pooh.” I find this line uninspiring but thought provoking. The young lady thinks she's all that AND a bag of chips. The young man is trying to explain to her that a self-absorbed life is unhealthy. Apparently in this instance I'm quoting the words where the lyric says, “Roses really smell like POOH, POOH, POOH.” Unless the lyricist was referring to Winnie the _______ this is an extremely unpleasant comparison.

I wonder, has there ever been a single movie about Winnie the Pooh when he takes off that little shirt and washes it? Or an indication that this little bear ever showers? Actually if he's stuffed he's hugged by a little boy in all stages of dishabille. Little boys are well known for their stench. “Rats, and snails, and puppy dog tails, that's what little boys are made of...”

I remember when Frank Zappa was a rock icon. His two unfortunate children were given the names of Moon Unit and Dweezil. Dweezil, really? I think that even if we ARE given unfortunate names, for example, my Mother grew up with Ima June Bug...not kidding. Even if she just used her first name Ima Bug? I'm certain that her parents thought the name was cute and funny. I hope that she agreed with their assessment.

To summarize this post, names are important. Before you name a child Dweezil, or Ima June Bug, stop and think, “This is the name that this human being will face for all of their life, unless they pay money and change it legally.

Actually I'm going to dither off the path again. When I did data entry way back in the 1970's there was a woman who had a relatively normal name that escapes me now. She opted to change her last name to “Obiewankenobi.” Just as the name is in “Star Wars.” To this moment I don't understand why you would CHOOSE such a difficult name. I'm certain that she had to spell it to every single human being that she ever met. Maybe she liked the attention?

Names are important. Be loving and kind when and if you have children and name them. Remember that in this era many people live to be one hundred years old. How would you like to live through 100 years as Ima June Bug? Kids can be cruel in school. Don't give them ammunition to use against your child! Give them a strong, loving, name, one that they can strive to live up to.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Joel Stein Makes me Laugh

Once before I wrote a commentary on the columnist Joel Stein.  I just can't seem to get enough of his writing.  He is witty, articulate, dry, and sometimes seriously sarcastic.  Is that an oxymoron?  Seriously sarcastic?

His article was cleverly labeled, "Love Me Tinder."  The heading made me think of a paper that my husband wrote in law school.  Nyle's title was "Love me tender, love me true, but don't steal my pictures, music, or likeness or I'll sue."  Wordy but you get the point!  lol

Joel and his wife facetiously used the Tinder dating app to help them decide who would wish to date them if they got a divorce?  Joel did not fare well in the applications of interest that he received.  His wife on the other hand had many, many young attractive men that were interested. 

A serious note for just a moment in my article about an article.  I do remember that Joel's article was humorous.  I would like to interject my personal views on the only reasons for divorce.
1.  ABUSE of any type, especially of your children.  2.  Control that is out of control.  3.  You find that you are married to a person who NEVER makes mistakes.  (OK, they do, sometimes lots of mistakes, but the blame involved is ALWAYS ascribed to somebody else).  If they are addicted to sexual actions with prostitutes, it's the prostitutes fault for dressing that way and being on the street to tempt men.  REALLY?  REALLY?  These three reasons are absolutely, positively, grounds for getting a, RIGHT NOW!

Joel and his wife decided to use the application to see what their dating lives would be after they divorced.  Poor Joel really got the short end of that stick.  He seemed to get lots of old women interested in him.  Old women that were, well let's kindly say a little wacky!

His wife on the other hand, attracted the interest of so many handsome, virile young men that she was loathe to end the app.

 Joel and his bride are very young...only in their 40's.  This is the decade that I have heard called, "The old age of youth."

I am in my late 50's.  My honey is dead.  Died two years ago.  I could start dating again.  WHY?  I had a friend once in my age group explain that men her age (and she wasn't much older than me) either were looking for a nurse, or a purse.

I must admit that it would be interesting to see what type of human being I would attract now that I'm approaching the tender, definitive age of 60!  My lovely adult daughters loyally tell me that I'm an approaching old age, "Hottie." 

I recall when my Mama was widowed at 73 years of age.  In a short period of time two elderly gentlemen asked her out on a date.  She turned them both down. 

I said, "Mama, a free meal with an interesting person.  What could be wrong with that?" 

Her frank reply?  "I know what those old goats want, and it's more than company for a meal!" 

After I was able to breathe again (I was laughing that hard) I told her that I thought it would be good for her to date, and find companionship.  That was NOT an acceptable idea for Mama.  She lived to be 95 and was completely, and utterly, dateless.

I currently plan on following in Mama's footsteps, even though I was widowed at 55...almost 20 years before she was.  I'm not certain if I want to live to be 95, without my beloved husband of 27 years.  Yet, I hope to fill those years with positive actions.

So...who knows, maybe at some point I will follow Joel and his wife's actions.  It might be interesting to see what male persons would find me attractive?  NOT!!