Friday, April 27, 2012

A trip to family -- part 1

My mind is still all ajumble from spending a week in SoCal attending the wedding of  Tony's second cousin Ben, and all the emotions it stirred up.

Part of it was just getting away on our first post-retirement trip, part of it was the fun of the wedding and watching so many family interactions from so many sources. Part of it was being in the LA area -- so big and with so much traffic and houses built practically atop each other, and the myriad of shopping and food choices, and all the amazing eye candy that is the coastline. And then we drove home via Highway 1, up the luscious coast through Big Sur, where there are such amazing views that go on for miles and miles that you almost ache with the beauty.

Reentry has been slow here: I'm still finishing laundry although the suitcases are unpacked. I'm grateful to be back in my own bed and with our kittyboys, who we missed very much but who were well taken care of by the Anderson Veterinary Clinic where they stayed -- we finally figured out that they do not do well when we gone,despite twice-a-day visits from our friends who care for them. They need more attention, more cuddling, more socialization than that, and they act out when they don't get it.

I think there are several posts in the works about family: those of blood and those of bond, and I'm trying to sort through it all.

The wedding and rehearsal dinner were just exquisite in every respect. Elegant, delicious food and presentation in settings that showcased the magnificent coastline: the rehearsal dinner was at the home of the groom's parents, overlooking Long Beach harbor, which allowed us to see the twinkling lights of greater LA come on as the sun set. The wedding itself was on a sunny hilltop on the Palos Verdes peninsula, with ocean breezes accompanied by a string quartet, and rain chains cleverly filled with tiny bouquets dangling from the tree under whose limbs the ceremony was held. The subsequent dinner, also outdoors on a lovely patio, was a bit chilly despite the outdoor heaters, and the groom's father likened it to the north coast of Scotland -- LA weather can be mercurial in the springtime, and fog was in and out most of the day in  the various microclimates found there. We were glad it held off until dinner! A warmer tent filled with inviting couches and chairs and ottomans, and featuring a big dance floor was the focal point for the remainder of the evening. Guests were all dressed up and the mood was joyous -- so wonderful to have family gathered for a happy occasion instead of a funeral, as the groom's mother remarked.

We visited at length with our little clan of Maxeys and watched the interactions of the groom's father's much larger family - some 40 cousins and their families were there to celebrate. The bride's family and friends also were fewer, but they had also come some distance -- the couple had decided to marry in California rather than in the bride's home state. One very touching, somewhat sad note was a sweet slide show about the bride's deceased father, played while her mother and she danced to "I Hope You Dance."

The couple was clearly held closely in the collective hearts of all present, and you could feel the energy and love surround them, and all of us present. They've started their married life together in a magical way, one that I hope they can carry with them for years as they remember the vows they took, the good wishes that accompanied the ceremony, and the love they clearly share.

It made me happy to be a part of this family I've married into. We were so glad we were there, and we will make staying in better touch a priority.

More reflections to come....

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

This amazing body

With some of our recent health issues, I've been thinking a lot lately about my body, and contemplating each part, especially this morning as I lay on the massage table.

Like most women, and many men, too, I suppose, I'm not a huge fan of what's there. It's long and lumpy and somewhat squishy. There is dimpled or wrinkly skin where it was once smooth. An assortment of scars and marks decorate limbs, torso, even face.

A couple of toes are bent and a little stiff; my thumb joints are thick and frozen. My gait can be a little stiff, depending on achy hip joints or lower back; my left elbow doesn't flex all the way out; my shoulders creak and my neck can grind.

But it works.

My legs take me where I need to go, and my balance is pretty good as long as I do regular yoga. My feet need extra cushioning in my shoes these days but they are straight and still nice looking. I can stand up straight and tall: my back is no more curved than it's ever been, and I consciously 'telescope' my spine and pull my shoulders back when I stand. I can bend over to pull weeds or plant seedlings or pick something up off the floor and get back up again without help.

My arms and shoulders let me carry shopping bags or groceries or pots or piles of fresh laundry or kitties or babies, and I can hoist a sling full of firewood into the house if I need to. My hands slice and chop and shred food for our meals, and I can still easily type with all 10 fingers, and knit or sew or thread a needle.. They may be a little lumpy in places, but they don't hurt.

My eyes see well, actually better now that I've had cataract surgery than I saw all of my adult life, and they let me read and watch movies and ocean waves and plays and see my honey's big brown eyes right before I turn out the light at night. My ears bring me music and the chirrups of the birds that flock to our feeders and the soft mew of our kitties and the footfalls of the deer outside our window at night. They may not pick up every word sometimes, but that's usually no great loss.

My mouth may have gold and silver and porcelain in abundance, but my teeth can chew anything I want to eat, and my throat easily swallows the big vitamin supplements that we take every morning. My voice still carries to the back of most rooms and my words are clear.

My hair is bright and thick and healthy, silvery gray though it may be. My mind works well enough for me to understand the books and magazines I read, the conversations I have, and even to memorize lines. It may work a bit overtime in remembering trivia from many years ago and replaying scenes from my past, but I can usually corral those wanderings and come back to what is here and now.  I see things from a perspective that generally cuts through to the heart of the situation or to the essence of a person, and I am not afraid to say what I see and think, although I am careful to choose my words.

I know that our physical appearance can make a lasting first impression, especially upon those who are younger. But I am aware also that outward appearance does not necessarily reflect who we are and what we can do, and as I age, I have begun to look more deeply before I venture an opinion about someone.

I have an amazing body. I am so grateful for all that it does, for all it allows me to be and do. And now, more than ever before in my life, I  am consciously, intentionally working  to keep it healthy and strong for as long as I can, and to say 'thank you' every day for all that I do have. If yours works, if it does what you need it to do, you should, too.