My Mother’s Last Gift

essay, non-fiction 3 Comments »

Seven years ago today, my mother, best friend to her children, great friend to many, a star in the political world, a teacher and a writer, lay in a hospital bed surrounded by her children. Many a time during the last few months of her life, she would say, “Don’t hold a death watch for me. I will NOT die while you kids are in the room.” All of us kids rolled our eyes at this comment every time she made it. After all she was our mother and we were NOT leaving her alone.

On that morning in 2004 the Hospice nurses came into the room and assessed my mother’s condition. “Your mother has a good two weeks before she goes. There are signs of when the time is near and those signs are not evident. So if you all wouldn’t mind leaving the room while we sponge bathe her and change her night gown, that would be good. Give us ten minutes.”

All of us went to the coffee shop and sat in an outdoor courtyard. Within one minute of us sitting down, our cell phones started ringing: we were to return to my mother’s room immediately.

We ran through the hospital back to my mother’s room where one of the Hospice nurses informed us that our mother had just taken her last breath. Mom was right. She did NOT make her grand exit from this earth with us all looking on.

Mom, you always were a woman of your word~for this and a lifetime of many other kind and loving acts, we are all so grateful and blessed. And given the opportunity, we will choose you again.

With all our love,
nannette, ben, kellie, jennifer, amy, siobhan and tony

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Romeo & Juliet Text Messaging

essay, non-fiction 23 Comments »

text-messagingDost thou love life? Then do not squander time, for that’s the stuff life is made of.
Benjamin Franklin
(via Loren P Matthews)

A curve ball came my way about three weeks ago.  I share this not to hang out the family laundry, but in hopes that this story will help teenagers and parents understand that there are other dangerous risks of text messaging besides driving and texting.

In mid January I had this instant intuitive mom flash of my 15 year old son skipping school.  With this “vision” in my head, I decided to drive over to his high school.  About a block from the school, off campus, I saw my son playing hacky sack with some other kids.  Playing hacky sack is not such a big deal, but my son was supposed to be in class and he is behind in school.

Of course he saw my car, with the words “LOVE” and “BE THE CHANGE” on the windows and he cringed.  His shoulders dropped as he approached my car.  I put the window down.  “What class are you missing?” I asked.  “You know how embarrassing this is?” he asked.  “Go to class and I won’t ‘embarrass’ you.”  He turned and headed for the school.

Jumping ahead to just after dinner that evening~my son sat in his room doing his homework.  I popped my head in to see how the homework was coming along.  It wasn’t.  He sat as his desk, text messaging.  I put my hand out and said, “The phone is mine until the homework is finished.”  He handed me the phone and I turned it off.

At 10:30pm someone rang our doorbell.  My husband and I had just gotten into bed.  We both looked at each other as we NEVER have visitors this late.  My husband went downstairs.  All I could hear was: Yes sir.  No problem sir.  Then I heard my husband come up the stairs and enter my son’s bedroom.  “Wake up.  The police are here and want to speak with you.”

I flew out of bed and followed my son and husband downstairs.  Two policemen stood in my dining room.  They asked my son if he’d sent any text messages to his girlfriend that might cause concern.  My son said no.  The police asked for the cell phone, which I quickly handed over to them.  They found a text message from my son to his girlfriend that said he was going to end his life.

From there, the police did an on the spot check to see if my son needed to be taken to the hospital.  After a half hour or so, the police determined that he was not a threat to himself, and asked that we make an appointment with a therapist.

After the police left, my son and I spoke at some length.  He felt that he was so far behind in school that failure was inevitable.  Immediately I let him know how much I love him and that ending his life wasn’t the answer.  I allowed my son to try and reach his girlfriend as it was clear that she had called the police.  It was late and he received no answer.

The following morning, I offered to my son that he could stay home from school given we’d been up so late the night before.  He declined the offer.  I drove him to school and returned home.  Within twenty minutes my son text messaged me to please come get him from school, that he couldn’t handle it.  There were three back to back messages that sounded panicked.  I called the dean of students and asked that they locate my son and that I was coming to the school.

My son sat in the office of the dean of students.  The dean and he were talking about the anxiety he was feeling.  And the dean recommended that we go to the hospital to get my son checked out.   At first my son agreed and then he changed his mind.  The dean left the office, saying she’d be right back.  My son burst into tears.  I held him, told him I loved him and that everything would be all right.  The dean returned with the school social worker who asked my son several pointed questions and then she left the room.  Within a few minutes the social worker returned saying that either I take my son to the hospital or an ambulance would come to take him to the hospital.  I would take my son to the hospital.

As my son and I were leaving the school, my son received a text message from his girlfriend’s mother.  His girlfriend  slit her wrists, was in the hospital, and she was going to be all right.  Because I’d taken my son’s phone the previous night and turned it off, my son was unable to respond to his girlfriend’s text messages that followed his threat.  So she thought he had ended his life and then attempted to end hers.

There are no words to describe the feeling that both my son and I felt.  As we drove to the hospital, another text message arrived, saying that the girlfriend’s father had canceled a long awaited visit with her just prior to my son’s text message of wanting to end his life.

There are a multitude of lessons here, not the least of which is that nothing is worth taking one’s life.  Another lesson for me is that the next time I confiscate my son’s phone, is that he tells his friends with whom he is texting that his mean old mom has taken his phone for the rest of the evening.  Also our children’s friends need to have our land line phone numbers and our cell phone numbers.  And our children need to have land line numbers and cell numbers of their friends’ parents.

Very importantly, text messaging is NOT the way to communicate serious issues.  This is not the way to break up with someone, to let someone know that someone has died, or any other news that can cause someone distress.  Face to face or eye to eye communication is ideal; ear to ear via the telephone/cell phone live talking communication would come next.  Unless one’s life is in danger and there is NO other way to communicate, save text messaging for the short notes like “See you tomorrow” or “Don’t forget your homework” or “I love you.”

In my home and my son’s girlfriend’s home, we are all counting our blessings and getting our children the help they need.

nannette

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Putting Away Christmas

essay, non-fiction 4 Comments »

red bowWhat’s with those of who hesitate, drag our feet, nearly refuse to “put away” Christmas?

I’m a member of this group.  And as I drove up to the store last night, I saw several homes remaining in ornamental light mode.  Some with just a tree or two in the yard lit, others “loudly” announcing Christmas with nativity scenes, Santa, reindeer, snowmen.  We don’t want the holiday feeling to go away.

My Christmas tree still holds all of its regalia in its branches.  A couple of days ago a friend let me know that she had just “unplugged” the lights on her tree ~ a start, she said.  Promptly, I walked into my dining room and took down the wreath.  I put away a wintry holiday snow globe yesterday.  Today I will begin to box up the ornaments. This got me to thinking that “dedecorating” might feel better as a process for people like us.

When most of us decorate, we set aside one day and transform our homes with not only nativity scenes, the tree, and endless stands of lights, but also with wreathes, mistletoe, garland, red ribbons, candles and gingerbread houses.  Within a matter of hours our homes change into our own personal magical kingdoms.  The air is different, the energy dances, sweet smells waft from our kitchens and smiles grow broader across our faces.

Of course if we leave up all the décor year round, then we would get used to it and the “magic” would fade.  But what if we systematically took down the decorations a little bit at a time so as to reacclimate into non holiday mode?  Well, I’ll keep you posted, because that is what we are doing this year.  The family has decided to do a little putting away each day instead of seeing the dramatic stark disappearance of the season.

The question remains though: How do we stay living in the season throughout the year?  Hark! I think the herald angels continue to sing.  Don’t store away your kindness, your sense of giving, love and gratitude with the décor in plastic tubs until next year.  I do, and have for the past several years left white lights (year round) outlining the large front window in my house~happy lights~happy reminder.

nannette

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New Year’s Eve is Like Every Other Night

essay, non-fiction 1 Comment »

2010New Year’s eve is like every other night; there is no pause in the march of the universe, no breathless moment of silence among created things that the passage of another twelve months may be noted; and yet no man has quite the same thoughts this evening that come with the coming of darkness on other nights. ~Hamilton Wright Mabie

With great gratitude to all my friends and family for being part of my life this year, years before and years to come ~ for each one of you have brought me gifts that without, I would not be who I am.

Let this be the year that marks the beginning of real peace. Begin at home, then to take it to your neighbors and friends ~ if each us does this all the circles will overlap and we will see change in 2010 ~ every day is a holiday; every day is a new start. Get out of bed in the morning and greet the world with hope, love and peace ~ and every night be grateful for all that you have ~ and the hours in between learn to forgive ~ it is a double gift.

Happy New Year ~ love, nannette

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It’s a Wonderful Life

essay 31 Comments »

Dec 23 09 006If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough. Meister Eckhart

The journey of the holidays, the season of love, the start of a new year, the path of life is now. No matter what your particular tradition is, the energy is undeniable. If you are wrapping gifts, preparing a meal, building a fire, playing a game with your children, holding your partner’s hand, remember to open your heart and prepare to give and receive. As Yoda says, “Do or do not… there is no try.” Choose to do. These are the things of which memories are made. Make the memories good ones.

Pay attention to each precious moment, love all who come your way, live with purpose. Remember you are sacred and unique~ just as when Jimmy Stewart in It’s a Wonderful Life, wishes he’d never born and Clarence the Angel grants him his wish, everything changes. Each moment is extraordinary. Savor these small increments of your wonderful life. Without you in the mix, nothing remains the same.

Remember, you are always on the journey of the holidays, the season of love, the path of life. It is always now ~Live in the season~

I am grateful for my followers on twitter, my friends on facebook, and all my family & friends.

Love & peace, nannette

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140 Days of Kindness

current events, essay, non-fiction 56 Comments »

angel

Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible~Dalai Lama

Thank you to all my twitterers, facebook friends and friends and family for you kind act suggestions ~ We CAN do this!

I meant to post this yesterday, on the U.S. celebration of Thanksgiving ~ but alas, way too much turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberries, green bean casserole, pumpkin pie, etc… I was grateful to spend time with my family and decided that the 140 days of kindness could wait until the day after.

So today is the today to begin living from kindness ~ during this 140 days, daily kindness will become natural and automatic.

Below is just the beginning of the list of 140 acts of kindness. In the comment section, make suggestions of your acts of kindness and I will update the list regularly ~ leave your name or twitter user name if you like.

Then if you want, take the 140 Acts of Kindness Pledge and help make our world a better place . . . kindness is contagious.  Simply state in the comments that you commit to 140 days of kind acts ~

#1 @cupcakes5 Rake the leaves from an elderly neighbor’s yard. #gratitude

#2 @afathersheart2 BE AN ORGAN DONOR

#3 @lizisaacslwc Do something special unconditionally for someone without them kn owing it. Be anonymous. It is the greatest form of kindness

#4 @TheQuantumCoach Place a note under a random windshield wiper that saying, “You are loved and you are worthy.” #gratitude

#5 @JCOblessed Be all the love & joy U know how 2 B.

#6 @azcactusflower out to dinner pick a table and anonymously pay for their meal.

#7 @jonitchr How about crochet or knit hats/ blankets for preemie babies? Does that work?

#8 @amgoth2000 Mom & I r knitting/crocheting hats 4 homeless 4 Lion Brand Charity

#9 nannette1094 Scrape the snow off a stranger’s windshield & “draw” a smilely face on the hood of the car

#10 nannette1094 print off hopeful quotes & place on others’ windshields at grocery store

#11 nannettee1094 pay for person’s coffee behind you at your fav coffee shop (this will inspire them)

#12 @JasonEscape: feed the meter for a stranger.

#13 @LunaJune: it is those little things that make the difference.. had a guy a couple weeks ago come up and pay .09 cents for me :)

#14 nannette1094 #kindacts pay for a couple of dollars of groceries for the person behind you

#15 nannette1094 purchase food and put into the bin at the front of your grocery store for those in need

#16 nannette1094 Offer to gift wrap for an elderly friend or neighbor

#17 @lele647 actually what we have here are like coupons you choose at the end of your grocery trip and all money goes to food banks too

#18 @JasonEscape Another good one, Jason! #kindacts Toys for Tots.

#19 @lele647 everytime I go I grab a dollar which ends up about 3 dollars a week. Kids take canned foods to school

#20 @JasonEscape: @nannette1094 Visiting a hospice. Performing, reading or just being present. #kindacts

#21 @JCOblessed: @nannette1094 Spend time with & listen to the stories of that elderly neighbor who lives alone.#kindacts

#22 RT @P10S: I enjoy #kindacts which are anonymous like leaving a small, thoughtful goodies on a desk or doorstep with a note of well wishes

#23 RT @P10S: likethoz Ferro rocher chocolates http://bit.ly/6qnyAg orAndes mints http://bit.ly/8UDM83 I think were made 2 hug ppl #kindacts

#24 @JasonEscape Visiting a hospice. Performing, reading or just being present. #kindacts

#25 @JasonEscape Standing up for someone who needs it when nobody else will.

#26 RT @JasonEscape: @nannette1094 Big Brother, Sister, etc. #kindacts

#27 @azcactusflower we hv extra Christmas lights elderly neighbor’s son used to put theirs up, he died We r going 2 surprise them w/lights up.

#28 @azcactusflower volunteer and a children’s hospital to rock sick babies..never enough hands for that. #kindacts

#29 @JasonEscape: @nannette1094 Telling a stranger that they have something in their teeth. #kindacts

#30 RANDOM KIND ACTS…crochet or knit a lapghan for a nursing home patient ..someone you don’t even know.

#31 Feed the feral cats in your neighborhood. (Neuter them, too, if you can!)

#32 @djdabblin I shared my extra water filter pitcher with my neighbor because this past week her water filter has been on the brink of not working properly. Everyone needs healthy water!

#33 @journalwriter7 #kindacts Sincere compliments with a smile can always brighten someone’s day; they are apt to remember, giving them a boost of confidence.

#34 @nannette1094 Shovel the snow off your neighbor’s walk or driveway ~

#35 @radiate I’d say the FIRST kind act ANY One can DO is LOVE SELF – it exponentially affects ALL of WE Positively & is the one place we..have complete control/direction/power/CHOICE…..from there….”ask what LOVE would DO, how LOVE would BE” in ALL situ’s positive energy this has BEen of assistance Sweet Angel, humbled and honoured YOUr request :) Big Hugs of LOVE to YOU

#36 @JhhR Smile at babies.
#37 Send a card to someone you haven’t heard from in a while – just to say hi and remind them they are special to you.
#38 Look the cashier/teller/etc. in the eye and say thank you after your transaction.
nother idea: When you’re walking kids to school, help keep the sidewalk clean by picking up any trash you find.
#39 At a cafe, pay for the coffee of the person next in line
#40 Another idea: listen without judgment when you hear about a different opinion or a choice that you wouldn’t make. Just listen.
————————————————————————–

#41 @kaboogie have your kids write their teachers a thank you not #kindacts

#42 @DrJackKing Let me encourage you to visit @Foyble_org ~ “for all the good we do and all the good we will do” #kindacts #payitforward

#43 @faraway67 My #kindact for every day – smile at least to 10 people that look sad…simple but it works
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@angels510

#44  Do an errand 4 a homebound elderly neighbor or acquaintance; or offer 2 drive them 2 appointments. #kindacts
#45 Visit a homebound elderly neighbor or acquaintance; bring a small present to cheer or meal 2 share. #kindacts
#46 Send HAND-WRITTEN note 2 someone who needs a little cheer. Nowadays, handwitten notes R rare, so this is special. #kindacts
#47 (Have done this 3x recently) – offer to gas-up for some1 who can’t go anywhere bcoz out of gas & out of money. #kindacts
#48 Pay the bridge toll for the 1 or 2 motorists behind you at a toll booth. #kindacts
#49 I’ve written anonymous notes & left them on windshield of cars 4 random #kindacts. Sometimes I insert a $-or-2 to surprise.
#50 I’ve written anonymous notes & inserted them in cards @ Hallmark, card shops. Sometimes insert a $-or-2 for fun. #kindacts
#51 This is common: VOLUNTEER @ a local homeless shelter or other charitable orgs. #kindacts
#52 This is less common but very kind: Actually ENGAGE w. the homeless. Talk to them, spend time listening 2 them. #kindacts

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#53 RT @dmbrown111: RT @NurseBevW: ♥Granted!♥ #crafterslove Wish Upon a Hero – I wish for 15 dollars to get medicine: http://bit.ly/5qp86s via @addthis

#54 @KamaainaInOC Red Cross is sponsoring Holiday for Heroes.Cards can be snt to Holiday Mail for Heroes PO Box 5456 Capitol Heights MD 20791

#55 @KevyK4life #kindacts ~ Say hello with a smile to everyone you meet..start a smiling revolution

#56 Jennifer Rogers Cummings When you are at the store & hear that someone has forgotten their discount card, offer them yours ~

#57 Eileen Munzo Let the person/people (depending on how kind you want to be) go ahead of you in line…

#58 Leave a kind/inspirational note in a library book on a post-it…

#59 When you leave a tip at a restaurant, leave a note or speak to a manager telling about the great service you got…let people’s bosses know how great they are doing.

#60 Colleen McBride smile at someone!!!

#61 Zari Pirasteh start the day without expectation from ourselves:)

#62 Steven Parker There’s always leaving coupons next to corresponding products in stores.

#63 Colleen McBride say thank you and tell people to have a nice day! it’s amazing how many people out there disregard those in customer service/service industry!

#64 Krysta Banke I learned this one at RIT – hold the door and wait for the person who is next to pass through.

#65 Irene Allievi You don’t need to go to Africa you can help to people you see everyday. Just to talk to them, be interested how they are today , greet them happily. E.g. I am a teacher if one of my students is stuck I spend some overtime to help them. I’ve got an eldery mother, may times I’m tired I just do things for her. Her nurse is sometimes short of money I … See More, try to help, her. What I mean see to people who are around you every day and give them a happy day. Make them laugh and feel loved. It works. Try to be happy to make make people around you happy. Once you incorporate it, it becomes a habit.

#66 Irene Allievi Don’t give money to the street boys. Just take them into a coffee shop and feed them or buy them clothes, if you have time.

#67 Rachel Hale Drew Buy a bottle of your favorite hand lotion and leave it in the ladies’ room at work.

Keep adding more in the comment section and I’ll keep adding to this post ~

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When Paths Connect

essay, non-fiction 2 Comments »

Each friend represents a world in us, a world not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born~Anais Nin

Did you ever wonder what twitter is all about? I often hear, “what good is it?”

In my other job I work for a nonprofit organization. Part of my job involves using twitter to get the word out about this organization. For those of you who don’t know about twitter, it is a free online communications tool that allows its users to send and read messages known as tweets. Tweets are messages/posts of up to 140 characters displayed on the author’s profile page and sent to the author’s subscribers who are known as followers.

During the first month of using twitter I listened to a conference training call on the “how tos” of making twitter work. One of the most surprising tips I learned (besides that this form of communication is the way of the future because it gets information out so quickly): Don’t exclude followers whom you may believe think differently than you. Granted a great majority of my followers are of like mind.

I have followed quite a number of people who have different political views, philosophies of life, careers, etc. In retrospect, this was good advice. I didn’t want to simply preach to the choir (I do, however, check people’s profiles and messages they have recently sent because there are some unacceptable crumbs in the twitter world who try to trick you into pornographic sites and some only know how to tweet foul language).

Over the past several months I have tweeted hundreds of positive thought quotes, information about the nonprofit organization, reposted others’ interesting and thought provoking quotes and information about other charitable foundations and causes. Reciprocity is a key in using twitter. This is the means of building relationships and credibility with your followers. I now have over 3000 steady followers and the number is always increasing. And I have managed to surround myself with many, many positive people. This is one reward I’ve found through twitter~I am constantly inspired by others.

All along I’ve been asking people to visit the nonprofit’s website, but recently I’ve added “let us know how you heard about us upon signing into the site.” Not only has the traffic to the site dramatically increased, the majority of the people visiting say they heard about the nonprofit through twitter. All the work (and fun) is paying off. This too, is part of the payoff.

But, I received my best gift ever, just last week. One of my followers, a young man (I’ll call Craig), who remains quiet among the more “poetic” tweeters. He is a DJ for a radio station and sends messages about music, which I believe it would be fair to say, we don’t really share the same taste in music. He is one of the people I followed to have variety amongst my followers.

Tuesday, Craig posted a recommendation to follow me: nannette1094 she’s been holding me down for months as a silent motivator. great twitter companion!!! I’d be lying to say I wasn’t surprised. I instantly tweeted back a note of thanks. A moment later Craig tweeted this message: When a person really desires something, all the universe conspires to help that person realize his dream. I sent a message back: Isn’t it contagious? He wrote back: it’s happening to me!! as we tweet! I couldn’t find the quote I wanted to send to him…I searched and searched. I’ve found it, though not yet sent it to him. To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded. You have succeeded Craig. What good is twitter?

nannette rogers kennedy

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