I have attended three reunions in the past 6 weeks. Please tell me I am not alone when I say there is always some pre-reunion anxiety, right? Who will come? What has changed since we were last together? Have we changed? Did we lose our closeness? Will we get along?
Two of the reunions were family which always brings drama. Should we avoid talking politics, religion, child raising, healthcare, the economy? Dare we revive old conflicts …. the possibilities are endless…and worrisome! But then again…what else is there to talk about? How do we relate if we walk on egg shells?
Some friends and coworkers I know avoid reunions at all costs. They just are not up for it. Whether imagined or real, they do not want to be judged. Nor do they want to answer the inevitable questions… not married? Don’t you want kids…you’re not getting any younger you know. Do you have a job? No grandkids? Why not? Have you gained weight? And it goes on and on.
Of course, there is an up side…memories of our younger days with grandparents, aunts, uncles, remembering stories of times past that make us laugh…and cry, holding on to the shared history that bonds us. Life changes us all and leads us down different paths but our roots ground us, unite us.
Henry Ford Hospital-School of Nursing - 40th year reunion
The third reunion was my 40 year nursing school class and it brought me the most anxiety. Except for a few, I hadn’t seen my classmates in 40 years! Would they even remember me? What would we talk about? Could I measure up to their success? Walking down the hall, I prepared myself for a quiet evening talking to only a few people.
Man…was I wrong! Like my family reunions, our shared past brought us together. We laughed (a lot!), we cried, but best of all our bonds were strengthened and rejuvenated. Our varied careers, though interesting, were minor details. The forty-year distance melted away and once again, we were human beings just trying to do our part in changing the world…at least for our patients. Especially in this age of such turmoil in the world, it does the heart good to be in a room filled with love…and pure joy at seeing old friends and comrades. The reunion reminded us that no matter where we go, those two intense years we spent together bonded us for life. Wherever we go, whatever we do, I have brothers and sisters out there and yes, corny as it sounds, it gives me that warm fuzzy feeling in my heart.
So my vote on reunions, family or other…a big fat YES! It’s one more way to . . .
kiss life in the face!
IN CONGRESS, JULY 4, 1776
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America
When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.
He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.
In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.
We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.
As a nurse, I encountered numerous memorable patients but there were a few that forever settled into my heart. Montana Wild is fiction, but Jacob, the patient in the story was real. In the span of a human lifetime, I knew him a very short time, but his spirit had a lasting effect on me. Jacob died decades ago but he stays with me and inspired me to write.
How is it that someone I knew for so short a time could have such a lasting effect on me?
Have you ever had a chance encounter with someone. . .a stranger, and you just clicked, even for a few minutes? I am not talking romantically, it goes deeper and more to the core than that. Age, gender, race doesn’t come into play…you just feel a connection with their spirit. In my lifetime, this has happened to me only a handful of times but I cherish each occurrence.
I was in an elevator with a group of people once when it happened…something almost magical. For those few short moments, as we traveled between floors, I felt a kinship… talking, laughing, interacting on a real level, sharing an unusually close rapport of humankind. As the routine journey stopped at every floor, packed in like sardines, we became one…sharing laughter, stories, kindness…basic human spirit.
When we finally reached our destination, I felt sadness when the doors opened and the shared warmth dissipated as we all went our separate ways. I mourned that it was over, but a deep contentment lingered as I knew I had just shared something special. Did everyone feel that same afterglow? I hope so. Why does it happen so rarely?
Jacob’s time with me was short but when a connection like that happens, one cannot measure it in time but in essence. A bit of his spirit lives on in me. It was a gift.
Thank you Jacob.
When my children were growing up, we had a chocolate lab, Stanley who was an ‘old soul’ and loved by all. Pre-occupied with raising kids and a full time job I didn’t give Stanley much of my time but luckily, my kids and husband lavished him with love and attention. Sadly, he developed cancer and the prognosis was poor. I tearfully asked our vet how long can we could keep him without being cruel. “You’ll know when it’s time,” our kind friend answered.
It was only a month later while we were vacationing at our cottage, when his words rang true. We unanimously decided that it was time and my husband would drive Stanley back to our home vet. During his last 2 days with us, we fed him everything and anything he wanted. For his last night, my daughter and I slept in sleeping bags with him between us on his bed on the floor. It was a long, tough night but I hope he felt our love.
Saying good-bye to him as my husband loaded him into the car was heartbreaking.
That was the last summer before our daughter left for college and I swore off any more pets. It was too painful saying good-bye.
Fast forward 8 years and my son temporarily moved back in with us. He wanted a dog and my husband and I finally agreed after many a discussion. After all, my son was home for a short-term transition and it would be his dog, his responsibility. Evan was true to his word. He fed him, trained him, cleaned up after him and loved him.
However, just like it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a family to raise a puppy. That darn pup worked his way into my heart in a big way. I still had pangs of guilt about not giving Stanley enough attention because I was too busy with life. I didn’t have that excuse this time . . .my kids were grown. I had time to dote on my grand puppy and dote I did. I came home at lunch to walk him, cuddled with him in the evening, and took him to obedience class when my son’s schedule didn’t permit. I had all the time in the world and I fell in love!
Nothing melts away a workday’s stress better than a dog’s loving welcome.
A year later my son tells me he is moving out. My reaction? “I’ll miss you son, but the dog stays!”
I tell myself it’s because my son’s schedule is too busy with full time school, a demanding job and busy social schedule. But I am fooling no one.
For now, we are sharing custody and it is working. I know I will eventually have to give him up but I’ll think about that tomorrow.
In Montana Wild, Jamie the heroine, was a New York City girl, born and bred. An impromptu trip to Montana brings her face to face, literally with horses and she is amazed at her reaction. Having never loved an animal before, she is surprised with her overwhelming affection for one horse in particular.
As she confesses her emotions to the the caretaker of the horses, he acknowledges her feelings.
“We are all God’s creatures. And I don’t necessarily think humans are on a higher level than other animals.”
Is there anything more true, more pure, than the affection of an animal? I think not. It is love in its most basic form and I hope everyone experiences it, at least once in their lifetime.
It is another way to . . .
Talk about opposites . . .
Question - What could make a born and bred New Yorker leave the city she loves for the mountains and wilderness of Montana?
Before I answer, let’s think about this….
Born and raised in Michigan, I had the opportunity to experience life both in a metropolitan area and (as Michiganders say) ‘up north’, in a more rural setting surrounded by forests and lakes. While this gives me a taste of two diverse settings, neither are the extreme.
I don’t think anyone would argue that New York City is the ultimate urban setting. It is home to over eight million people, not counting tourists and visitors. Wow! Imagine all the stories there. Reaching far to the other side of the spectrum is Montana with a population of just over one million…in the whole state!
We often tend to think of city dwellers as soft because of the many creature comforts a large urban area provides. True, civilization and big cities offer many conveniences but, to survive in NYC, you can’t be a cream puff. Contrary to what many believe, New Yorkers are outside…a lot. Walking to and from subway stops in blustery wind and blowing snow, fierce downpours or hot humid windless days…they need to be tough.
Cement sidewalks, granite curbs and endless stairs in the subway provide a daily work out…all while carrying commuter packs and groceries along with their cup of latte. But New Yorkers love it…they thrive on the hustle bustle. Sidewalks are crammed with people laughing, arguing, deep in conversation or silently immersed in their thoughts. It is a people place.
Montana wilderness, on the other hand, is a land of wide open spaces that offer vistas of tree topped mountains, ice cold rivers and of course, Big Sky. It is rugged country and their people are too. They are hard workers who have a slice of heaven and know it. A giant herd of elk crossing the road is the only time you’ll get stuck in traffic. It’s been said that the whole state is just one big small town.
Imagine as a New Yorker, trading in your sky scrapers for majestic pines. Instead of bumping shoulders on the crowded street you walk alone on dirt paths leading up a mountain side. Rather than inhaling exhaust fumes, your lungs are greeted with crisp, pine scented air. In place of blaring taxi horns, your ears are filled with nature’s symphony of birds singing to the tune of tree branches swaying in the wind.
If you are a city dweller, would you welcome the paradox world of Montana or find fault in it? Would you struggle like a fish out of water or welcome the flip-side of life?
In Montana Wild, Jamie the protagonist, struggles with guilt as she falls in love with Montana. New York City is her home…her first and only love and she has become unfaithful. While New York is still her heart, Montana has opened up a new chamber that she didn’t know existed. Blindsided by the rush of new experiences, emotions and wildlife, she tries to deny the change within. She is conflicted…should she resist or give in to the transformation?
Personally I love both worlds and would have a tough time choosing. I’ve always wondered if I am tough enough to live in NYC full time, 365 days a year, surrounded by millions every day. Or could I survive a Montana winter in the mountains, as Mother Nature blankets the state with an often brutal wintery wonderland.
It couldn’t be the physical environment alone that would cause me to pull up my roots and move. Certainly there were factors swaying Jamie’s decision. What were her reasons? What would push her over the edge?
Answer –a) the bond she shares with her co-rescuer after cheating death while rescuing a child
b) a surreal encounter with a divine spirit
c) befriending a volatile stallion
d) having the perfect man pursue you
e) majestic mountains
f) all of the above
What about you? What would it take for you to pick up and impulsively move to an opposite world?
A Little Bit About Me . . . and What I Didn’t Know