Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Elder Care By Jaye Lewis

Of all the things I NEVER wanted, shopping for “Elder Care,” was at the top of the list. Paper panties, adult bibs, Sippy-cups, and callous removers were things I never thought I’d own. I’m pretty safe with the paper panties, so far, but all the rest, plus much more, have suddenly become of interest to me.

Stretch jeans, with elastic all-the-way-around; shoes with Velcro straps; cushioned bathtubs, cabinets filled with prescription medications – for every ailment known to man, all are on the top of my shopping list. I live from payday to payday, not so that I can buy that exciting outfit, but so that I can live and live well.

It’s difficult at times, just dealing with one new addition. I memorize the name and color code of each medication. I keep them in a see through plastic box, always in the exact order, and I always return each bottle to its assigned place. Before I’m satisfied that it is safe to swallow each dose, I read the label, take out each pill, and I recite the color code and what it’s for, aloud to myself. If my neighbors could only see, I’m sure that the word would go forth, that “Mrs. Lewis is talking to herself again.”

Growing old, a dear friend once told me, is not for wimps. She is so right. It is not easy to fall asleep, as it once was, and sometimes I can uncomfortably feel every thread in the bottom sheet. I often joke that I am like “the Princess and the Pea,” of fairy-tale fame, which tells of a “real” princess, who proves her title by feeling a dried pea through over a dozen mattresses.

My husband accuses me of having pillow fights, as I try to pound my pillows into becoming a perfect mound underneath my head. I lie back, then sit up, then pound, pound, pound, until my pillows are crying out for mercy. And memory foam?? Don’t get me started. That is NOT the perfect pillow! Harder than the Rock of Gibraltar, and only half as yielding, memory foam has been known to keep more stalwart souls than I, sleepless for weeks. Give me latex, on a slanted bed, and someone to rub my feet. Give me a white-noise machine, earplugs, soft cotton sheets, and an electric blanket. Now that’s what I call elder care.

American pharmaceuticals have given me something that is essential for living – quality of life. I eat healthfully; I exercise; and I laugh a lot, especially at myself. Without my medications, I would not be able to go shopping with my daughters. I wouldn’t be able to garden. And I would have no reason to celebrate life.

At sixty-two years old, not much has changed about me. I still have red-gold hair, with just a touch of silver strands. My smile is still young, and I still see that glint in my husband’s eyes, which tells me he has never seen another face so lovely. Yes, my weight is not what it was when I was twenty, but, in truth, I have never been so happy.

We live in troubled times, it’s true, and sometimes, yes, I am afraid. But if we use our eyes, we can still see beauty in our world. If we allow hope to fill our hearts, we can still make a future. We can love our families and friends; we can cuddle with our pets; we can fashion a plan; and we can laugh at ourselves. And tomorrow? Perhaps I’ll find something to buy in Kinder-care. © Jaye Lewis, 2009

Heavenly Father, here we are within our own skin. We are neither bad nor good; yet you love us and put up with us. Let us know You as Father, and let us experience the joy of simply being alive. With all my heart, I pray for each soul who reads this message. I understand the struggles that they are experiencing, right now. Please Father, be their rescue. Be their calm, in the midst of the storm. And Father, would you please remember me and my family? We know that everything we have comes from Your grace. To You be the praise and the honor, forever.

With love,
Jaye Lewis

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Living on Grace By Jaye Lewis

When I look at my life, from the beginning to today, all I see is the grace of God. I see His strength in the midst of adversity. I see His rescue when I was in despair. I see angels of every size and description, both great and small, steadying me all the way. In spite of evil that I have witnessed, or have even suffered, I can see that there has always been a dome of protection surrounding me. I have often wondered why?

I am one of those people who ask, “Why?” You might even say that I’m a “why-ner.” In sixty-two years I have seen a lot of evil. Heck, just in the last Presidential race, I wanted to hide my head in shame, just to make up for the human race to which I belong. Racism, parading as cultural pride. Immorality paraded as honor and duty. I saw too much. There really are people who don’t want to know the God’s truth, who call themselves Christian, yet will not believe the truth before their eyes, simply because they must hang on to their prejudice and bigotry. Why?

I simply can’t answer that question. I can give you an example from my own life. I came from a family who always drew up sides. One side was “us” and the other side was “them.” Now the “us” and the “them” often changed sides. One day you’d be “us,” and the next day you’d be “them.” You never wanted to be “them.” “Them” were evil, disloyal, ungodly, and worse, until you became “them.” It was simply crazy, in every way.
Right after my second child was born, I came home to my mother’s house. Now, my mother liked to get things off of her chest, and onto someone else’s. That day, I was the victim.

My mother told me how my Aunt (one of “them”) had died during childbirth, four years before. Now, I had just had a baby, just a few days old. Never mind about that. My mother had something to get off her chest, and my mother had a deep hatred for my Aunt. However, I was deeply disturbed. I thought about the condition of my heart, and how I had nourished the hatred from my mother into something ugly within myself. You might say, I saw myself, and I didn’t like what I saw.

One morning, as I was fixing some breakfast, my mother was sitting at the kitchen table, brooding. She did a lot of brooding. I was rather pensive, myself, trying to find the right words.

“Mom,” I began, “I’ve been doing some thinking, and I’ve seen something about myself that I just don’t like.

“What’s that?” My mother asked, with little interest.

“Well, Mom, I just realized that I have spent four years hating a woman who is not even alive.” It seemed so clear to me. All of a sudden my mother pounced.


“But, Mom, she’s dead!” I tried to reason.

“NOT TO ME, SHE’S NOT! NOT TO ME!! AND I HATE HER!!! SHE DESERVED TO DIE! AND NOT A MOMENT TOO SOON!” By this time, she was screaming, and alarmingly. At that moment, I realized that I had just become “them.”

The tirade went on for hours, hatred spewing from my Mother’s every pore. And I’m certain my mother was made to suffer long ago, but that was not the point from my perspective. I was given a window into my own soul.

Seeing one’s soul, from God’s perspective is a scary experience. I knew in that moment, how to turn my Mother’s wrath away from myself. I could merely join in…but I didn’t. I kept silent, and I finally let myself see what my mother had allowed herself to become, because of real or imagined hurt. And as I saw, I saw what I could become, if I let myself.

So, I decided that as uncomfortable as it was to be “them,” in a family ruled by hatred, I would rather be “them,” than to live a life of bondage as “us.” From that day, I lived a life of great loneliness, but my relationship with God began to deepen. I suffered untold humiliation and grief. And even though I never ceased to ask the unanswerable question, “why,” I was glad that I was neither “us” nor “them,” but simply me.

With love,
Jaye Lewis

Monday, January 05, 2009

Prayer for My Little Boy by Jaye Lewis

Hello friends,
It's a small thing, but then, so is he. A bundle of energy, heat seeker, sweet face and sassy spirit, after eleven years, Happy Dog is still my little boy.
Happy has gone through much in his short life...chemical treatments that sickened him to the brink of death; two spinal surgeries, many a crating to prevent a need for more surgery, I could go on and on, but I won't. Just know that he has suffered much.
Happy Dog has been my faithful companion, my guardian, and he has been by my side through my own bouts with my mortality. We are joined by shared triumphs and tragedies. Our hearts are joined beat by beat. I love him...and...I need him.
If you only knew the times that I have ranted at this dog, for his many indiscretions...a piddle here, and a bundle there, but where does one measure worth. Is it the measure of material things? Or do we measure by the strings of the heart? Happy has taught me to filter all things through my heart. He has gentled me, and he has rescued me from the heartbreak of my past, teaching me to meet the future with courage and anticipation.
His wagging tail has been like a beacon of a playful spirit. We have shared many a joyful romp down the hall, as I, in mock anger, cry: "Bring me back my slipper!" Then off he goes, waving his tail like a signal flag, with me chasing after. We know the rules, for he has made them up. He runs like a rocket, and I try to catch up, which, of course, I never do.
I didn't realize that anything was wrong until he cried out one day. Then we saw his sweet tail, swollen near the tip. We tried. Dear God, we tried. I crated him. He was put on anti-inflammatory medication, but to no avail. His tail...his little flag...will have to be removed.
Oh, how it is killing me. I can't bear to see that little happy tail silenced. It is a tail meant to wag with laughter. Accompanied by his joyful bark, it begs for one to follow into another adventure, which spills so readily from his intelligent mind. Yet, I love him so, I will not let him suffer with such courage, the pain that accompanies his little crushed tail.
So, now, I think about the future. How many more years will God give me with the dog of my life? Hopefully, there will be at least a dozen; yet when the time comes, I will, regretfully let him go. You see, I love him, and I need him. I can see the unblemished love in his eyes for me. I can feel the beat of his heart against my hand, as I lift him up off the floor. That heart will beat for me, without ceasing, until God takes him home. Oh yes! I do believe that there is life after this life for such a faithful companion.
So now, I must make an appointment for the surgery I do not want, to give my little dog a more pain-free old age. It doesn't matter the outward appearance, inside his tail will be wagging just for me. You see, he will always be my little boy.
Father in heaven, through the days ahead, we each have trepidation through many adversities, both great and small. Help us, Lord, to face the future with love and courage, and please, Lord, forgive me as I pray, in this time of great want, for a little dog who has stolen my heart.
With love,
Jaye Lewis

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