February 7, 2013 § Leave a Comment
Colorful flashes of my life accost me at regular intervals throughout my day.
There’s the baby, she must have been three months old.
Who is that? My mind refusing to pull up a name.
Don’t ever wear that again, I warn myself.
Oh, remember that street in Nice … the dogteam ride in Greenland … Oh, there’s the wedding.
Does that top make me look fat? I muse, not looking for an answer.
No, it’s iPhoto selecting bits and pieces of my life to rotate on my desktop computer. No rhyme, no reason, no pattern. Just a delight of discovery. A frisson of remembrance. A slight breath in.
I look at all the lives who have touched mine, places traveled I never thought I’d go, the rich and varied tapestry of my life and I’m thankful.
copyright 2013 Inger Logelin
January 25, 2013 § 4 Comments
In the middle of December 2012, 45-year-old twin brothers in new suits and shoes drank cups of coffee together in the hallway of a hospital. They smiled, gave a little wave good-bye to family and were administered lethal injections by a doctor.
Marc and Eddy Verbessem lived in Belgium, a country where euthanasia is legal. According to an article by Simon Tomlinson in the Daily Mail Online on January 15, 2013, the twins were deaf since birth and also had “severe” medical problems. After receiving the crushing diagnosis they would soon be blind from a genetic form of glaucoma, Marc and Eddy told a brother they “had nothing to live for.” Unable to communicate with the outside world,they used their own form of sign language with family. Losing independence was untenable for the twins who worked as cobblers and had always lived together and taken care of themselves. The family tried to persuade them not to kill themselves, but failed.
Perhaps, if Marc and Eddy had met someone like Helen Keller they could have glimpsed hope for their futures.
Helen Keller, born in 1880, was blind and deaf at 19 months after a serious illness—probably scarlet fever or meningitis. Unable to communicate, her dark world exploded into light when Anne Sullivan held Helen’s hand under a water pump and repeatedly spelled out the signs for water. She was seven.
Helen learned to speak and read people’s lips by touching them with her fingertips. She earned a bachelor of arts degree at Radcliffe and became a world famous speaker and author. When she was introduced to Christianity, she said, “I always knew He was there but I didn’t know His name.” An author, speaker and political activist, she was presented with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1964 by President Lyndon B. Johnson, a few years before she died in 1968.
Three lives facing the same obstacles. Two said they had nothing to live for. One lived out her credo, “I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something that I can do.”
copyright 2013 Inger Logelin
August 7, 2012 § 11 Comments
It took a few days for the silence to be noticed. For a few days I was still coming across bits of my daughter’s life that she didn’t get into the moving truck. A hair tie from our 15-year-old granddaughter, Nikes that our 12-year old grandson had outgrown. Worn fuzzy slippers, a box of treasured cups, evidence of their life lived out first next door, then one house away. For twelve years.
Their house is empty, new owners moving garden art in bit by bit that looks out of place. It’s like the old magazine feature, “What’s Wrong With This Picture?” when you try to spot the items that don’t belong. I walk by their lush yard and think where did that come from? I want to go cut a bouquet from the lush crop of this season’s hydrangeas, but they’re someone else’s hydrangeas now.
Our house is quieter. Our daughter doesn’t breeze through the door in the mornings with a “Got any coffee?” Afternoon Scrabble or Rummikub games or the revolving back door, kids breezing in asking, “Grandpa?” or “Grandma?” are conspicuously absent. Life done collectively was noisy, rich and satisfying.
Moving on is taking on a new meaning for me. Our daughter and her husband and family moved on to a new opportunity and a new life in a state four days drive away. Moved from the green and temperate Northwest to over 100 temps, from being surrounded by water to flat land and drought.
Now it’s our turn to move on. No, not physically, but in terms of reinventing ourselves. Spoiled by the living-life-together privilege of close proximity, I dream of moving closer to our youngest daughter’s house and the bright and sparkly two-year old who lights up all our lives. They’re not four days’ drive away, just a ferry ride and 45 minutes, depending on notoriously clogged traffic. My moving on schemes range wide in imagination but will have to be played out in real time.
One thing is for sure, only God never changes, everything else does. My assignment, should I choose to accept it, is creatively filling the silence of their absence with moving on moments of my own.
ⓒ Inger Logelin 2012
June 19, 2012 § 1 Comment
I slouch down comfortably in my seat at The Clyde Theater anticipating excellent acting from the ensemble cast in the comedy-drama The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. The theater is full, patrons chatting amiably as usual. A gaggle of “Red Hat Ladies” fill three rows, red, feathered, sparkly side-perched “fascinators” their hats of choice. Sitting next to my daughter and her friends I realize that I’m sitting among the youngest in the theater–as they are in their mid-forties. The theater is like a large cozy community living room, tonight peopled with the mobile aging.
As the movie begins, the money woes and/or personal issues of the characters are introduced, one by one. Judi Dench’s character has just lost her husband of many years (well, you know what I mean: he died). Her son informs her she is deeply in debt and she must sell her home and go to live with him. Bill Nighy and Penelope Wilton play a long-married couple who have sunk their life savings in their daughter’s internet business and can only afford a stark retirement cottage with grab bars and a call button. Tom Wilkinson plays a high court judge raised in India who retires and returns there. The indomitable Maggie Smith, an ex-housekeeper with no house to keep, can’t wait six months for an expensive hip replacement in Great Britain and comes to India for the operation. Ronald Pickup and Celia Imrie play desperately-seeking, failed-in-love individuals. And then there’s India: gloriously multi-colored, volume-turned up, people everywhere, spicy India. India is the background character who steals the show and holds the story together as the retirees all head off there–to the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (the manager played by award-winning Dev Patel of Slum Dog Millionaire fame).
As the retirees mesh their lives in the attractively shabby-chic hotel in India, secrets begin to emerge, new strengths and opportunities are discovered and passions rise. I won’t spoil the story for you if you haven’t seen it, but know that lives change as India—glorious, maddening, exasperating, beautiful India—forms the backdrop. We watch Judi Dench grows as a person, finds a job to supplement her meager retirement and opens her heart to new love. Maggie Smith morphs from a bitter and racist harridan to a woman of purpose. Those looking for love are persistent until they find it. Tragedy and comedy play out in the other characters’ lives, racism and inflexibility are revealed, love and persistence win out and death waits in the wings.
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is a movie that looks at how some live that end stage, that winter season, that final act that we call “Golden Years.” The acting is skilled and seamless, the screenplay by Ol Parker from a book by Deborah Moggach called These Foolish Things is engaging. But as the screen went black and credits rolled and the patrons at The Clyde Theater clapped enthusiastically, I felt a little sad.
Sad that family connections are portrayed as so flimsy that the characters don’t want to live around their children or grandchildren as they age. Sad that there doesn’t seem to be a purpose in the lives of the pensioners except amusing themselves. And sad for the portrayal of the one long-time marriage in the movie. When the wife will not adapt to India and they learn their retirement money has not been lost after all, she demands they return home. Thirty-nine years of marriage disintegrates in seconds in standstill traffic as the wife goes on to the airport and the husband turns away and returns to the Marigold Hotel and the potential of a waiting new love.
It’s just a movie, I know. But, I’d love to see couples in marriages occasionally portrayed working through misunderstandings and disagreements, portraying commitment and faithfulness. Is it too much to ask to see a man and woman growing old together content with each other and what they have?
ⓒ Inger Logelin 2012
May 15, 2012 § 2 Comments
Getting older takes the pressure off the grand scope of unrealistic expectations.
I know now that I’ll never:
- Climb Mount Rainier
- Sing back-up to Willie Nelson
- Write the next Hunger Games-style trilogy
- Have my own talk show on TV
- Become a millionaire.
Our children are taught that they can be anything they want to be. You know, it’s just not true. For all of us there are choices, exclusions, forks in the road. Our natural giftings influence our successes.
It’s refreshing to me to now be able to shuck off expectations that put pressure on me to perform, to be, to do. The narrowing avenue of years ahead force me to concentrate on what is important, what I really need to do, the legacy I really want to leave.
“Teach us so to number our days, that we may acquire discerning minds,” says Psalm 91:12 (Modern Language version). I need to discern between what is good to what is best, what is trivial to what is eternal, what is time wasting to what is crucial.
I’m making a new list.
- Love my people
- Write down what I don’t want my family to forget
- Get rid of the junk, the time wasters, the non-essential
- And most of all to follow what God has in mind for me: “… to be fair and just and merciful, and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8, The Living Bible).
Deep breath. Ah, yes. Simplify.
ⓒ Inger Logelin 2012