We got out of the house again today!  It just feels good to be out in the van running errands after so long stuck inside.  There was no nap again today.  I certainly hope in spite of that, there is more sleeping tonight than there was last night.  It was snack time at 3:15am. 

We ran errands and ended up at the grocery again today.   Mary Ann likes being at the store.  It seems to be one of the most engaging and entertaining activities for her.  It frustrates her that she is no longer the chief of food preparation and pantry stocking. 

Lunch was left over chinese from yesterday.   Supper was Chicken Tetrazini that was brought to us from church by the Parish Nurse for the freezer.  I cooked some fresh broccoli to add a veggie.  The Tetrazini tasted wonderful to both of us.  I am always fearful that anything from the freezer will not spark Mary Ann’s interest, but she loved this meal too. 

The Parish Nurse program at the church from which I retired has been one of the strongest ministries.  It is so strong because Margaret has made it so with God’s help.  She visits folks who are homebound regularly, taking vegetables from Glenn’s and her vegetable garden, flowers from their flower garden, leaves from their Maple tree in the fall, CD’s of the last Sunday’s church service, and from the church freezer she brings food that has been designated for use by the Parish Nurse.   The sense of community and support from church is vivid for those who receive her ministry and the ministry of those who assist her. 

Since there was no nap today, it helped that a Volunteer was scheduled for two and a half hours this evening.  I got out for a coffee refill.  I got to the liquor store to buy a half bottle of Asti Spumonti so that we can tie one on Thursday evening, New Year’s Eve.  That will happen when we eat cheese and crackers and toast the New Year at about 8:00pm.  It will be the New Year somewhere on the planet by then.  The worst part of it is that every year we do that, we have of the half bottle left to sit in the fridge for a while.   I guess we are not the rowdiest partiers around. 

The time the Volunteer was here gave me a chance to focus attention on the online Ignatian Retreat I have started.  This week’s activity is remembering the mental snapshots of those events from the past that impacted our formation.  This evening began the Teen and Young Adult reminiscences. 

Many of them related to the choirs I was in.  I perceived myself to be a non-entity in social terms at the large schools I attended.  I was utterly shocked when my name was suggested for President of the 104 member Sophomore Choir.  I got to serve as President and Student Conductor or four more choirs through high school and college before entering the Seminary.  Singing was at the very center of my life from Junior High through the end of the Seminary (8 years post high school).  Music has had a sustaining and nurturing presence in my life for all the years since.  It feeds my spirit in a way that allows me to continue doing what I am doing now. 

One of my most vivid memories is of the night when I was about fourteen years old that I decided to go in the ministry.  It was a very spiritual experience.   There was not magic nor were there voices from above, just some powerful mental conversation that seemed to reveal the Lord’s leading to the decision.  I am always suspect when someone says the Lord told them to do something.  It seems often to be an attempt to use the Lord to make people agree with something the person has decided is so.   The decision to go into the ministry was tested and reconsidered as other career options moved to center stage, one in Physics and the other in Choral Music. 

That memory confirms for me a decision-making process that, at least in terms of major decisions, has seemed to leave me completely secure in whatever I have chosen to do.  I have never regretted a major decision or second-guessed it.  Whether right or wrong I have given myself completely to whatever has followed each of those major choices.  I have not lost energy because I wondered if I was doing the right thing.  I may have lost energy for other reasons, but not because I doubted the choice I had made.  That has been the key to dealing with the challenges that come with full time Caregiving.  As those of you who read these posts know well, I have plenty of times of frustration with my role and my own limitations, but I do not question the decision to choose the role. 

The time in life that is the focus of today and tomorrow is the time during which Mary Ann and I met and, three and a half years later, married.  I had endured the typical rejection by the first couple of Junior High crushes.  I will say it certainly did not feel typical.  I met Mary Ann (having known her name since we grew up in the same church) the summer after my first year in college. 

Romantic love is, of course, very selfish.  I fell in love and found that a gaping hole in my insides was filled by that relationship.  I can only speak for my own feelings on the matter.  I do not actually know much about Mary Ann’s feelings at that time, or since then for that matter, since she holds her feelings close to the vest, as they say.   While we have had the usual ups and downs, the relationship has remained secure for these many years.  I feel no less in love with her than I did forty-four years ago.  Even the waste management duties have not changed that.  If anything, the feelings are deeper and more fully developed than when we began our life together.  The struggles of these last few years have drawn us closer.  All of that does not preclude our getting grumpy with each other, or our resenting each other when things are not going well for us.   It just puts the problem times into perspective as just a part of a strong and healthy relationship. 

The online retreat is providing lots of fodder for the task of finding meaning in the circumstances in which I am living as a Caregiver.  Finding  meaning in the Caregiving tranforms frustrating days into fulfilling days.