Archive for the ‘life-and-death’ Tag

The Ten “May We’s” (according to Grandma Googy)   1 comment

Judy Bloomgardener passed away at 9:35 p.m. on 11/11/11, Ultimate Noodle Day and a day full of symbolism for new beginnings. She died peacefully, surrounded by family and friends, with a sweet smile on her face. Judy wrote the Ten May We’s as suggestions for her grandson Sam on his 13th birthday/Bar Mitzvah day. We read these instructions for living as our final goodbye and commitment to her to carry her spirit forward in the world. The 11th May We, of course, is May We Always Celebrate Noodle Day.

The Ten “May We’s”

(according to Grandma Googy)

  1. May we love ourselves, for each of us is holy, made in the image of God.
  2. May we treat everything with respect, for all beings are holy, people, animals, plants, as well as beings too small for us to see, even the earth, the air, and the water, all of which come from, and return to life.
  3. May we think globally while we act locally. May we honor, protect and be loyal first to our families (including our dear friends), then to our communities, and then to the world, for that is the natural order of things.
  4. May we protect children, animals and the world they will inherit: We have no more important task.
  5. May we live simply, so as to remember who we are. May we not be distracted by the multiplicity of things.
  6. May we not wage war, but love diversity, for life has many aspects, and everything that exists has its complementary opposite. May we always seek a compromise among the conflicting voices within our own complex selves. In relating to others, may we seek a balance between the other person’s needs and our own. May we listen actively to every voice that seeks to be heard, straining to hear the softest voices or those that speak in foreign languages.
  7. May we not hurry nor worry. May we breathe deeply and rest when we are tired, trusting in the natural rhythms of all things. May we be comfortable knowing there is nowhere to fall but into the hands of God.
  8. May we give full attention to whatever we do, no matter how humble, since the present moment is all we ever have. May we know that every day is a good day.
  9. Whatever our unique gifts, may we express them fully and fearlessly, for each of us is a treasure not to be wasted. May we be gentle with imperfections and lavish with praise, towards ourselves and others.
  10. May we remember the past and teach it to our children, for it is our heritage. And may we use our God-given imagination actively to create the future anew. For the creator of all things has endowed us with memory and imagination so that as we gain in experience we might remake the world, more peaceful, more just, more beautiful and more joyful.
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Pain   1 comment

I have so much yet to learn about what it is to be a person, the wildness that is in us. Part civilized and part savage. Today I heard a terrible story — about pain — that gives rise to a prayer, first, and next, the need to investigate further why there is such a powerful force — pain — in us.

My friend’s mother in law had been feeling very weak and was hospitalized for immediate treatment as well as extensive testing. As feared, it seemed the cancer she’d battled years earlier had returned. A PICC line was installed to get urgently needed blood into her system as quickly as possible while a treatment plan was being worked out. Who knows what, who knows why, but while my friend and her husband were away from the hospital overnight, Edna pulled out the PICC line and when they arrived in the morning she was extremely agitated, demanding that they get her out of bed and take her home. When they couldn’t agree, she became extremely hostile, particularly shocking because they had been such a close family. My friend persuaded her husband and his sister to leave the room; she couldn’t bear their pain as their mom, in her delirium, turned on them. Better, she thought, that Edna rage at her, the daughter-in-law. The nurses were finally able to calm Edna’s agitation with high doses of morphine. Whether because of the morphine or the trauma of her having pulled out the PICC line or something else, Edna died the next morning, never regaining consciousness, her last interactions with her most beloved people a crazed assault of blasphemy.

“May I be spared!”, I think. I remember my first experience of intense pain, in labor with my first childbirth. Left alone in the hospital room with horrendous, incomprehensible, things happening inside my body, I looked desperately for a way out, and saw my clothes, the clothes I had replaced with a hospital gown, on a hook, by the door. “Simple!” I thought. “I’ll just take this gown off, put my own clothes back on, and leave! I’m not a prisoner! They can’t stop me!” Unable, for a few minutes, to comprehend that the pain wasn’t in the hospital; the pain was in me. The nurse did stop me, of course. Despite having entered the hospital with the strong intention to have “natural childbirth” (my husband and I had taken a course to prepare ourselves), I succumbed, shocked by the experience of pain, to the nurse’s offer of “a little bit of demerol”. I thus missed out on my daughter’s birth, during which I was completely unconscious. The demerol was amnestic, leaving not even a memory trace.

Ten years later, on what would turn out to be the last day of my husband’s life (although he had been severely ill for several months, I simply hadn’t grasped the possibility he would actually die of the illness), I walked into his hospital room in the morning. A nurse was opening the curtains. “Such a beautiful day,” she says. My dear, gentle husband, who never cursed, bites her head off. I reprimand him, “She was just trying to be pleasant [still a very young woman, I haven’t a clue about sickness, pain, powerlessness].” — “There’s no reason to yell at her.” My husband, a skeleton, raises himself up in the bed, to roar at me, “Nothing matters! NOTHING!”. And that is the last conversation we ever have. And in my mind, that last conversation, despite fourteen years of amicable marriage, has a very disproportionate weight.

Now I am ill. Sometimes, the pain is like a roaring in my head that drowns everything else out. To make myself heard — to myself — above the uproar in my head, I have to yell. It seems as if I’m yelling at my caregivers, at my friend, who gives to me so generously. Afterwards, I beg their pardon, explain that my yelling has nothing to do with them, it is just the pain. I can see that they are shaken, but I can’t help it; I can’t not scream. So far, there has always been time afterward to clarify, to apologize, because, so far, the pain has subsided, and I have returned to my civilized self.

So I pray: Oh Holy Spirit, please spare me from having paranoia on top of my other problems. Let me never blame someone else because I am in pain. Help me, Source of All Things, deeply to understand the function of pain. I wish to accept it with grace, but, so far, can only wish it away with all my might.

Posted April 10, 2011 by judybloomgardener in Uncategorized

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Thoughts while studying fermentation   2 comments

Take away the caps and we all become common nouns
joined, broken apart….

I’m suddenly passionate about fermented foods –
bread, cheese, pickles…

How did I overlook for so long that the yummiest foods are decomposition products —
Which I will soon be myself.

Bob told me of the moment, at his grandma’s funeral, when he got it:
He wanted, wildly wanted, to steal away her body, save it from the molds, when suddenly, blindingly, saw that it would be her own bacteria, her friendly flora, that had kept her going 103 years, who would feast on her, a big party, procreate, and go on…. and he thought, OK!, and he decided, and I have too, not to be cremated, because he wanted to allow the big party to go on.

I keep drawing things with my new drawing app, forms emerging from the darkness; I don’t  know if it’s inner sapce or outer space, underground or under water,  I search for wild and wilder forms, squiggly and wiggly, striped, dotted, with and without spines.  What’ll it be?!!!

My “singularity” is almost surely a countable number of days away
so it’s with very personal interest that I study decomposition and fermentation

It started with Bob, also with Nancy, who is 86, becoming obsessed with making salt-rising bread.  She’s hanging around the kitchen to see if she can lure the right kind of organism into her crock of white corn meal not two hours from the mill.

Like gazing intently at the sky
to discern the presence of a traveling stranger

Won’t you come in?

Like Abraham to the angels that then heralded Sarah’s improbable pregnancy

I’m surprised to find myself in the company of the SETI crowd, not exactly searching for extra-terrestrial life, but sensing with excitement the dark places full of unexpected lifeforms, as unexpected as “I” am.

I’ve read about spores, protected, in their jackets, from cold and heat and radiation, and, I think: take off your jackets —- who knows what you may turn into?