Wednesday, April 24, 2013

All Because of Ryan White...

Yesterday, as I was lying on the couch resting (and, yes, the kittens were there as well) because I was having an over-the-top RA day, I went channel surfing. I happened upon an episode of Oprah's " Where Are They Now?". One of the people she followed up on was Ryan White's mother. Remember him? The young man from Indiana who made all the headlines when he was diagnosed with HIV back in the day?  Yeah! That Ryan White.

I have a special place in my heart for Ryan and his mother. Ryan taught us all what it meant to be ridiculed, persecuted, hated, made fun of and ostracized...and all for something that was no fault of his own, and totally out of his control. My heart aches just thinking about what that child lived through!

All because of Ryan White many of us learned that people with HIV/AIDS are just that: people who, for whatever reason, have a horrible cross to bear. I understand that cross, because my family lived it, too. Ryan's tenacity, quiet and gentle spirit, and strength of character were lights to my son, Austin, and me when we lived through the death of my first husband, and Austin's dad, Marc.

No matter how the disease is transmitted, it is horrible. And no one deserves it. I remember when Marc was first diagnosed. It was two weeks before his untimely death giving none of us an opportunity to grasp the severity and reality of the situation. We didn't get to say goodbye. We didn't get to hold his hand. We didn't have the opportunity to tell him all the things we wanted to say. Marc and I had been divorced for six years when he died. He lived in Houston, we, in Colorado Springs. We were still close...we had a son together and wanted nothing more than to do right by him.

When he died, it was surreal, like a bad dream. I thought of Ryan White and how he was treated by those who chose not to understand, those who lived in fear of the unknown. I had chosen many years before to become educated about the disease. It was while I was in nursing school in Little Rock that the AIDS epidemic hit. I assisted with procedures on AIDS patients, bathed them, fed them...and, in those days, none of us knew what kind of precautions to take. We only knew we felt helpless and inadequate in the care of the men who presented with this monster of a disease...a disease that mutated itself every four hours. So when Marc passed, it was a relief of sorts that he wouldn't suffer anymore. He had pneumacystis pneumonia, a symptom if the disease, and the pneumonia actually took his life.

How do you tell your child his father has AIDS? Worse than that, how do you tell  him his father will never get better? At the time, it felt like we were walking through a dream sequence that never ended. Twenty-four years later, I don't think about the illness anymore. I think about the man and how fortunate we were to have him in our lives. Austin and I live our lives, knowing that we were both fortunate and blessed to be a part of his life.

All because of Ryan White...whenever I hear his name, see a photo of him, I remember Marc...and smile.

Monday, April 22, 2013

The Best Wedding Anniversary Ever!

Yesterday (4/21/13) was our 7th wedding anniversary. We didn't really make any plans, just wanted to play it by ear...and play hookey from all of our regular responsibilities and obligations. Late in the morning, we piled into the car and drove over to Salida and did some window shopping. When our appetites got the better of us, we asked around and local word of mouth pointed us to Amicas, Pizza and Microbrewery in Historic Downtown Salida.

I walked in with no expectations; I only knew I was craving a fantastic salad. Not just another iceberg lettuce, dollup of cheese and out of season tomatoes salad. So here's how it went: we walked in to find people waiting in line to order at the register. The menu is on the wall behind the register. So much to choose from. And lots of vegetarian options, for those of you, who like us, are so inclined. I ordered a lunch portion salad and a small Vesuvio pizza, which had artichoke hearts, roasted red peppers, mozzarella, basil  and marinara sauce. Don ordered vegetarian lasagna and a salad.

The salads arrived and I'm super glad we only ordered lunch-sized portions. They were enormous and colorful and delicious with the restaurant's signature dressing.  The main course arrived and it was more than we could eat.

The service was great; the atmosphere casual, relaxed and friendly. The staff was courteous, welcoming and helpful. Check out their website at  Take and back, eat in, take out....they have it all. Visit them if you're in the area. You won't be disappointed.

Later in the day, we drove over to Mount Princeton and took lots of pictures. All in all, it was a peaceful, quiet day spent with the man I love, away from all distractions. The best anniversary EVER!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

If Life Was an Expletive

I grew up in a very conservative home in the South. My parents didn't drink, party or cheat on their taxes and didn't knowingly hang out with people who did. My dad quit smoking when I was a tween and I remember how proud I was of him. He had been smoking since he was a young boy. He told me he used to sneak off and smoke his daddy's cigarettes when he was about nine, so to quit some 50 years later was a big deal.

My mom was a Sunday School teacher, teaching ladies classes for more than 25 years. She was a teatotler, thinking anyone who drank was surely going to have quite a time convincing St. Peter to let them past the Pearly Gates. She didn't cuss (unless she dropped a casserole on the floor and then she'd say "just hear it kids! don't say it!) Then her choice of words, by today's definition, might be considered just a temper flare and not ugly at all.

Daddy, on the other hand, knew every inappropriate stereotypical name for every ethnic group on the planet...and used them! He also had a colorful word to describe incessant complaining....come on, now. You know what it is. It's an adjective that freely flows in today's society used to describe a woman or girl who even looks at someone cross-eyed. Rhymes with witch, stitch, rich....there you got it.

Tonight I was flipping channels and stopped at a reality show to see what was what. One of the men on the show was having a meltdown and  it went something like this: "If you can, bleep bleep bleep with a clear conscience then you can bleep bleep bleep then bleep bleep and I quit!"  Seriously?

Sometimes I wonder how our society has come to the place where expletives are so widely accepted. I was watching an episode of 20/20 several years ago and the reporter was interviewing students in a high school in a large metropolitan area. The story was about inappropriate language, swearing, etc. He asked one student if he swore and the teen said yes, he did. Then the reporter asked why. The kid said, "Are you kidding? Everybody talks like that!"  My jaw dropped.

First of all, not everybody swears. It just seems justifiable, if a person can convince themselves that everyone does. Why, I can remember when I was growing up that it was a REALLY bad thing to say "That sucks!' Now it seems just a regular way to describe raw, hurtful or ill feelings. Does it make it right? No, I don't think so. Recently someone said to me in reference to his job that "it sucks to be me". I sincerely felt badly for this person. However, was it really about his job...or was there something else going on deep inside himself? I'm not a therapist, but I am old...have been around the block a couple of times..and I recognize when someone is struggling. And if he's reading this, I hope he knows it really doesn't suck to be him. Yep, I used his word...even though I don't like that word used in that way.

I guess I've noticed ugly talk more lately because as much as gets bleeped on TV there seems to be just as much that doesn't. And what's more amazing is that to mention Jesus is what the networks consider to be the bad word (unless it's been used to take the Lord's name in vain and that appears to be perfectly acceptable). Odd how that works, isn't it?

Please tell me I'm not the only one who's had enough. Please tell me there are lots of you out there who aren't totally desensitized.


Tuesday, April 9, 2013

I've Been Crowded Right Off the Couch

It's Tuesday. It's snowing! And snowing! And snowing!  We've had the wood stove going since we got up, Don working in one room of the house, me on the couch with my laptop.

Well, at least a part of the morning. You see, Jack, my enormous now 11-month old Maine Coon, who weighed in at the vet a couple of weeks ago at 14 pounds, 4 ounces, jumped up and cuddled into my leg, then his sister caught wind of our gathering and did likewise. About ten minutes into that (and that was about two hours ago), I got crowded right off the couch. Yes, sir! They have claimed the sofa. I moved over to the loveseat and they are none the wiser. My lazy bums haven't budged an inch. Which is probably great for me! I had a lot of writing to catch up on.

And what a lot of writing I've done! I've been stuck in the middle of a plot, unable to move on, but today came clarity. From two nights of little sleep, my creative juices began to flow once more. The two couch hogs have been my confidantes for the past couple of days while I've been mulling over a recent life situation which shall no doubt, at some point, help me and others learn some valuable life lessons. For now, it is painful and that makes for good fiction.

Wait a minute! Maybe that's why the cats kicked me off the couch! They got SUPER TIRED of listening to me whine! DUH! (Imagine me slapping the side of my head, like "I coulda had a V8!")

Friday, April 5, 2013

Oh, How the Weather Teases Us!

I've been receiving the most pictorial, descriptive, warm-sounding emails from my eldest sister, who lives in a little farming town in Arkansas....Lonoke (ponounced Lone Oak...not LaNokey, as Geraldo Rivera called it back in the days of the Paula Jones fiasco. And yes....that is Paula Jones' old stomping grounds.) Anyway....

My sister, Prudie, loves to garden and landscape. Her yard always looks so inviting, homey and colorful. She tells me of her daffodils and how beautiful they are, and how soon her dogwood will be blooming, and I sit here and daydream of times long ago when I lived there and Spring sprang and I felt alive after a bone-chilling, humid winter.

Many years later, I have acclimated myself to Colorado winters (which aren't so bad really!). I wait it out like everyone else, but somewhere about April 1 I begin to feel teased by the weather patterns. Outside I see the beginnings of life....purple sage sprouting up, aspens with buds, patches of green bursting forth here and there through the whiteness of the snow as we drive down the highway, the warmth of the sun on my face as I walk up and down Obsidian Drive.

Then POW! The next day it snows and blows and I sink back into cabin fever and start a fire in the wood stove, make a cup of hot tea and pull out my knitting needles. I sit on the sofa in front of the window and watch the substantial weather happening outside my front door. And I dream of daffodils and digging in the dirt and dogwood and the sounds of the neighbors mowing their lawns that first time, all welcoming in Spring once more.

We don't actually get Spring. My lilac bushes don't bloom until June. My garden doesn't get planted til late May (if at all). One day it's cold....the next is SUMMER. 

So all of you who are now working in your yards, planting perennials, pruning rose bushes, planting bulbs...just remember. You may be enjoying warmer temps right now, but when you are doused with the humidity and heat of summer and are trapped inside your air-conditioned homes, know that we in the Rockies are enjoying temps in the 80s. We may not get Spring, but we have INCREDIBLE summers. Not a bad compromise, if you ask me.