Thursday, January 8, 2009

Seeing Your Life Flash Before Your Eyes

(I’m in the second row, second from the right.)

No, I did not have a real near-death experience yesterday. My children and husband constantly chide me because I try to live every day as though it is a near-death experience. I guess they are trying to tell me that I tend to manifest this philosophy in the annoying tendency to be over-dramatic and over-sensitive. For me, there is no other choice. Living this way is the only way that gives my life meaning and purpose. It doesn’t take much to get my life flashing before my eyes.

Monday morning I was determined to find some photos of our house in the Poconos. Our family purchased the house, which has been the site of memorable family vacations, back in 1983, and how that came about is a beautiful story, but it has outlived its usefulness to us now and, despite the housing slump and bad economy, or perhaps because of it, we decided we should try to put it up for sale on Craigslist. I never got to looking for the photos on Monday. My desktop publishing work for this month has started to trickle in and after that, because of a fortunate series of events related to my recipe blog, I think I am becoming addicted to the Internet.

Just before I left for winter vacation, I received notification that my pomegranate recipe is a finalist for a $5,000 grand prize. They will be choosing the winner at the end of this month. Out of curiosity, we went surfing the net to see if we could figure out how many finalists I was competing against. We never did get that information, but in the process, we came upon something called The Foodie BlogRoll. This is a website for people and organizations with food-related blogs. The conversations taking place there were all abuzz with information about the Pom pomegranate contest and how some had won cases of pomegranates with which to experiment. I applied for membership in The Foodie BlogRoll right before I left on vacation, and within a few days was accepted. Monday, once I finished my work, I began perusing the list of almost 3,000 member food blogs for those that looked interesting to me. Oh, my goodness! I was like the proverbial kid in the candy store. I finally tore myself away at 2:00 in the morning. Dipping in and out of other people’s lives in this way is really addictive! I also found it incredibly stimulating creatively because there is so much talent and passion out there, not to mention that someone living in a place like Ipoh, who may find their day-to-day life relatively mundane and uninteresting, is incredibly exotic to me, as my life is probably incredibly exotic to someone living in Ipoh. From the beginning, when I put in links for which my friends say “duh, who doesn’t know that?” I have explained that I imagine my reader to be a little old man in China.

On Monday, my long-lost friend Roxy from high school days and I had tentatively made plans to meet for lunch on Tuesday to finally celebrate her birthday, which was back at the beginning of November. The weather was supposed to be snowy and icy, though, so we decided to decide in the morning. We chose a restaurant we both love that is about midway between us, Blue Sage, the best vegetarian restaurant I have ever experienced. We met early at 11:30 a.m. to avoid the approaching storm system, just as the restaurant opened. Catching up on our lives was the beginning of my process of “seeing your life flash before your eyes.” I was dredging up memories of giving birth that I hadn’t thought about in years, among other things.

After a stimulating and delicious two-hour lunch, we embraced and then started home. Shortly after that, tiny specks of ice began to bounce off of my car making a distinctive, and rather pleasant sound. On the way home, I stopped to drop off a belated Chanukah gift for another friend who had spent winter vacation in Israel with her family. It was the first trip to Israel for her grandchildren. She has visited many times. While I was with her, I bumped into two other people with whom I share old memories.

Yesterday, Saul had meetings at Chestnut Hill College for a few hours at lunch. Mom is now afraid to walk down the hall with her walker without him. She says that she is weak and afraid she will fall and that she doesn’t trust my strength to see that either she doesn’t fall, or, if she does, that I will be capable to help her get up. She rushed through eating her bread pudding to make sure that he walked her back to bed before leaving for his meetings. I am not sure what will happen when he returns to school next week for spring semester. Despite my assurances, I suspect that she will cease getting out of bed when he is not here. Her good moments are becoming fewer and farther between. I arranged for oxygen to be delivered yesterday, but she was not happy with the tubes, the benefits were not dramatic, and I am afraid she will trip over the tubes, which would really be a disaster. She is still able to laugh and make jokes about her situation whenever she is not feeling completely miserable, though.

While Saul was in his meetings, I caught up with business and housework. In the evening, he had a board meeting at the synagogue. Finally, I began going through our old photographs looking for photos of the Poconos house. Between the years when I diligently organized our kids’ baby pictures into photo albums, and about seven years ago, when we first started using digital cameras and archiving our photos on disc, I had accumulated hundreds of photos that were thrown, in no particular order, into a half dozen miscellaneous bags and boxes all over our closet. I suspect that unless you are a zealous scrapbooker, you probably have the same system. In the space of about three hours, my entire life flashed before me. What a wonderful life it has been! Experiences and vacations that I hadn’t thought about in years suddenly flashed back in glorious and youthful color. I had always thought myself rather awkward and ugly. Now, from the viewpoint of being a somewhat overweight old woman, I can see that I was pretty attractive at one time. If only I had realized that at the time how much more comfortable I would have been in my own skin. In the random mix, I came across several photos of my Birney Elementary School classes. I posted a blog a few months ago about a conversation with my mother where I vented about my perceived inadequancies in elementary school and my jealousy over a fellow classmate. Last night I studied those photos carefully for a while. I was surprised to find that, through the lens of time and experience, I now think that I was one of the more attractive girls in the photo and the girl who was the object of my envy was probably not the beauty I thought she was at the time. I hope I can somehow use that revelation to help my granddaughters maintain a positive self image.

This morning, my email contained a forward from Saul’s cousin in Israel with a YouTube clip from Fox News about the situation in Gaza. Her note read: “Isn’t it interesting to see how we are portrayed abroad? Do people really believe this?” After viewing it, I really felt ridiculous about the subject of my last blog post ;-P. Her son is serving military duty right now.

BTW, in the very last group of photos, I found two of the house in the Poconos.


Ari said...

So what, exactly, was the "Girls Safety Patrol?"

Marilyn said...

Hi Ari! I hardly remembered anything about it besides the metal badges, strapped on with leather bands on the upper arm, which you can see some of the girls wearing in the photo if you look carefully. Dad reminded me that the boys had another set up with a sash that went across the chest. He was annoyed that he never got to be an "elite" safety because they said his English wasn't good enough. Here is a link that explains more than I think I ever knew about the safety patrol: