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Monday, April 26, 2010


She's a queen who sits upon her throne
And utters not a word.
She looks at those around
As if they were all quite absurd.
The cook, she tries to tempt her
With the greatest of delights
But she simply turns her nose up
And coughs with all her might.
Her servants try to please her
And dress her in good taste
She doesn't like it much though
When they fix her hair with haste.
They do not understand her
When she tries to tell them "no"
So where they wish to take her
She must surely go.
Sometimes it is quite taxing
To be rushing here and there
So she simply tips her head down
And sleeps soundly in her chair.
She really is quite happy
To have a family
To share with her
And care for her for all the world to see.
Contentment could describe her
For her world is filled with love
And so she's found frequently
Cooing like a dove.
They love her beyond reason
This family of the queen
Regardless of the season
Together they'll be seen.

Monday, April 19, 2010


It has been five years since I lost my mother, I offer the following as a tribute to a full life led by an amazing woman, Phoebe Elaine Parr Rutan.

"What a beautiful sweater!" the woman exclaimed when my daughter and I came into view. "My mother made it for me when I was a kid," I replied. "Now my daughter wears it. Those hand-knit sweaters last forever." The woman smiled in response and we each continued on with our daily business.
Later in the day I became pensive about that pink and white sweater with the kitty-cat buttons. I remembered going to the store with my mother and picking out those black and white cat silhouette buttons. Becoming nostalgic, I thought about the comforting sound of the clicking knitting needles I grew up listening to. How exciting it was to have a new article of clothing made by my mother's hands! That thought led to consideration of my mother's hands.
Those hands that knit that sweater had a busy life. They changed four babies' countless diapers. They wiped away the tears shed when a baby died, and folded in prayer for God's help numerous times over her 76 years on Earth. They held hymnals and bibles and Dr. Seuss books. Those hands held those of her husband and children and grandchildren. They clapped for countless children's performances, laid Scrabble tiles over and over, and dug gardens. In her younger days growing up on a farm, those hands touched cows, petted dogs, picked vegetables and learned how to make bread. They were not just the hands of a mother, they were the hands of a sister, a daughter, a wife, a friend and a volunteer. Those ten fingers made beautiful music on a piano, typed countless pages of meeting minutes for PTA and church groups. The woman who owned them nearly froze them hanging laundry on the line in the winter until they cracked and bled, and squeezed lemons for lemonade to go with sandwiches in the summer. Not only could they work magic with yarn, they could sew clothes, embroider,and bake countless batches of cookies over the years. Near the end, the hands that had been so productive, so happy to cradle a baby's head, so busy, forgot what to do. They were idle, no longer was their owner able to make beautiful things, she simply couldn't remember how to make them work. As her illness erased her abilities, others took her hands to lead her. When finally her time on Earth was finished, God took her hand in the night and gently led her Home.

Thursday, April 8, 2010


Nobody in their right mind would do this. That is what I say to myself every time I am trying to maneuver Hillary from her bed to the bath tub. The process involves first getting her into the sling, then lifting her with the motor unit, pushing her along the track suspended from the ceiling to the doorway. Then I climb the step stool, open the door that adjoins the bathroom, reach in and grab the next strap and hook to attach it to the handle, lower her until the bathroom side strap is taut, unhook the main strap and hook it onto the bathroom strap loop, raise her up until the extra strap is slack and unclip it, then climb down from the step stool. Next thing is to get around the end of the swing away shower curtain rod, position her over the bath seat in the tub, hold her legs so that she won't get them caught between the seat and the edges of the tub and lower her into the bath seat and unhook the sling from the motor. Once I have the motor (still suspended) secured out of the way, I can turn on the hand held shower and commence washing my 17 year old daughter. She doesn't like it and doesn't keep still. Shampoo and soap get in her eyes, occasionally she gets a mouthful of water, and she tries to pull away from me when I want to wash under her arms. Telling her to be still and relax is pointless but I do it any way hoping that one day she will understand and take my advice. Once she is clean and soap free, the whole thing starts in reverse with a towel around her so she won't get chilled, and a quick stop to put her tangled hair into a ponytail so it won't get tangled even worse during the drying off and getting dressed process. Once she is dressed and finally in the wheelchair, I begin the task of detangling her hair. Rub in some anti frizz and start combing with a wide tooth comb. She hates this, but it must be done. She cries and keeps moving her head but I just keep going. When all the tangles are out, here comes the hair dryer. This she tolerates a bit better, but still isn't thrilled with it. Finally her hair is dry and I can once again comb it and put it in a pony tail which then gets braided. After and hour and a half Hillary is clean and ready for breakfast. Like I said, nobody in their right mind would do this.

But I am lucky. Hillary is mostly easy going and once the physical things are done she's happy, it doesn't send her into hours of screaming. Not every parent is so lucky, and I thank God that I have a child who can easily be soothed. Choices are few when you become the parent of a child who has special needs. You can keep them with you and do your best to care for and protect them, give them as happy a life as it is in you power to provide, or you can give them up, let someone else do it. I don't sit in judgement of anyone, we all do the best we can within the parameters of who we are and what our situation is. Sometimes it is hard to think that, not to judge others, or ourselves. If anyone is judging me, it is ME. Couldn't I give her more time, better care, a happier life.......etc. But when I take a moment to just sit down and consider all the options and how happy Hillary is, I realize that I am simply doing the best that I can and while perhaps someone else could do it better, I'm doing a darn good job--even if I'm not in my right mind.

Saturday, April 3, 2010


On the first warm sunny day every spring he returns. I get home from work and he's waiting for me by the front door. It's Bob and he's back to guard the entrance to my house until the return of cold weather. He hovers in front of me not allowing passage until I say, "Hi Bob, it's just me." Quickly he moves away and I can continue on my way. Going back outside later he's still around, he hovers near but doesn't stop my progress. My daughter arrives home from school, my husband from work and he greets them, as well as any visitors we might have, as he first greeted me.
It's been nearly ten years since Bob made his first appearance. We were all wary of him at first. We tried to get him to leave, but persistently he stayed. After a while, when we realized that he meant us no harm, we named him Bob and just went about our lives. As I sit on my front porch writing on a beautiful sunny summer morning he passes by. he does that occasionally, even when I'm on the back patio. He'll just stop by, hovering at eye level as if to make sure I'm OK. I greet him with "Hi Bob! and then he buzzes away up over the roof toward the front of the house. He's black and yellow and about the size of the last joint of my thumb. According to the exterminator he's a carpenter bee. He had been eating holes in the wood trim under the eaves. In the evening when we were sitting on the porch enjoying the summer twilight we could hear him munching away, little piles of sawdust leaving evidence on the floorboards. In spite of having the bug man spray the holes, and eventually having vinyl siding put on the house, Bob is still around. I don't know where he lives now, but it must be close by.
Of course I realize that bees don't really live for that long. It is one of the mysteries of nature that there is always one carpenter bee that hovers at eye level around the front of my house. There he goes again: buzzzzzzzzzz.......