I am wise in the way I have grown old.  

At first, being retired was terrible, like having my hands cut off, or being a banana without a peel.

I have a skill that is still useful and vital, but now I am learning to let go, to let things flow through me, flow past me, flow through my fingers or my conscious thoughts, without grasping them.

I understand some important things about people:

Drives, needs, physiology, need for stability and need for growth.  

The need for support and the need for adventure.

I understand some of the weight of different social pressures, and the need for a livable pace.

Being able to balance doing and being matters to me. 

Never losing the prayerful center, the I/Thou is crucial.  

Holding heart and head in balance, even though often feeling only wobble, not steady state. 

St. Ignatius said we should try to always be in contemplation in action.  

I see medicine as service, rather than as a platform of authority.  I see we all need to continue to be useful as we are able. Every day is a new challenge in being useful in some way.

Writing my first letter

A visit with my grandmother

Writing My First Letter

Nana is dancing in the kitchen, frying weenies for dinner.    The weenies are sizzling in the black iron frying pan, with steam and stinging droplets of fat rising from it. She  is doing a little jig, and poking the weenies with a pancake turner.  I am standing in the doorway in my quilted robe and slippers, and just came from the hall which has the floor heater, standing over it and letting it blow warm air up my legs.  Sunlight pours from the window in the bathroom into the hall behind me, but the kitchen is in shadow, and is cooler.  The old black telephone is on the hall table, and if it rings, Nana will come to answer it.  Popie, my aunt, has gone to work at the high school, and we are at home this morning, just the two of us.  Later we may go to town.  I have come to spend a few days at my grandmother’s house.  

Nana came to get me, over the mountain from our house in Fillmore, to bring me to visit her and my aunt at the farm.  

She has me sit at the Mexican table in the breakfast room to write a letter to my parents.  She has bought me some wonderful stationery, with yellow ducks marching along the bottom of the page, and it has lines, so I can practice writing.  I copy the letters she shows me.  I ask her to help me compose this letter; 

“Dear Mommy and Daddy,” ( It takes an eternity and half a page to write that ).  “I am having fun with Nana”.   (This takes another half a page and a lot of time, but it is legible! ). “Love, Tina.”

Nana is going to take me with her later to the P.O. and she will address this first letter I have written, and put a stamp on it.  I feel so grown up, so wonderful, to be able to put words on paper, above that line of yellow ducks.

I am happy we are getting to eat weenie sandwiches for lunch.  I love them, half-charred, and covered with mustard.  My grandmother carefully cuts them vertically down the middle, and splays them so that the flat edges of the insides get braised in the frying pan.  She presses on the rounded outer sides of the twin halves with the pancake turner.  They want to curl up, but she keeps them flat.  

The bright yellow mustard is the same color as the yellow ducks on the child’s stationery with the wide lines.  We eat in the breakfast room, redolent of smoke and bright Mexican blue— the walls, the chairs and the table, although it is covered by a red tablecloth, and there are little red flowers painted on the cross-bars of the chair backs.  

My grandmother is laughing and cheerful, and the house is peaceful and warm.  Nana drove to Fillmore to get me, to bring me to her house.  I am not sure why my sister didn’t get to come too, but I am glad to be getting my grandmother’s full attention.  When Popie gets home, we will do something together, the 3 of us.  I am a very happy child.  Nana and I sing little songs, like “Twinkle, Twinkle little star.”  I can’t remember all the little songs, but I am familiar with them, and chime in when I can.  I love to hear my grandmother sing.