I have to give all the credit to Dad.
Dad is a planner and is always early for everything. And as it becomes harder and harder for him to get around, we have started working together on his Christmas shopping to take some of the physical work off of him. Sometimes I think that I forgot that he still lives by himself and manages to take care of most things just fine. But when I watch him walk or get up and down, I just want to do whatever I can to help him. I don't believe I will ever reach his age. Maybe I feel like doing what I can to make things more enjoyable or easier will somehow make up for the guilt of getting out of old age. Yes, I know that makes no sense, but instead of being angry or resentful that I might not live to the statistical mean of my sex and race, I sort of feel like I have been given a pass on all the hard things that come each passing year as we age. So by helping him with his Christmas shopping, it just naturally led me into doing mine. Taking away the stress of going to the mall or a discount store, standing in long lines of holiday shoppers, not me! It feels kind of odd, but this will give me more time to do the things I enjoy most about the holidays which is crafting and baking. I have my Christmas letter done so I can work on my Christmas cards at leisure and hopefully get them in the mail prior to Christmas Eve. I figure as long as they are postmarked by Christmas Eve that counts.
Ok, and that is one of my favorite parts of Christmas, the deadline. That is it, come Christmas Day it is done, over, no more. Some things you can just drag them out wringing out a daily dose of guilt over not having completed the task. For making a mountain out of a mole hill, and therefore rendering the task virtually unsolvable because it has been built up into such an ordeal. Yes, I know that guilt is one of the least healthy emotions, but it can be a good tool to get things accomplished if used correctly. Hey, it has been the weapon of choice for mothers and grandmothers from various religons for millineum. But it also can be an extremely self defeating weapon when used upon your own self.
I still have to get the Christmas pagent down on paper, and it has to be something that will be done as a cold read for the most part, so must be simple and straight forward. But I will work on that after Thanksgiving. This coming week my focus will be on the feast day. The celebration of abundance and remembering to give thanks, to be grateful, to stop and appreciate all we have around us. I have to finish getting the menu set, do some cleaning before Rob, JongAe and Jessica get here and Jack and Jan come over for dinner. Another wonderful holiday where it is done and over on the day designated as Turkey Day.
I think I need to sit down and write a list, get myself a little better organized here. To make sure that I am receiving everything I ordered. I have been so focused on Dad and helping him that I have not been doing a great job following up on my stuff. That will come the week after Dad leaves. And there will still be plenty of time to take care of anything that needs attention. I already have so much done, and any little problems with orders still have plenty of time to be corrected.
In the process of making all of these orders I would find something here or there that caught my eye, I ordered a second scale for my soap making. If the scale goes out, I can not make soap, so an extra scale as a back up only makes sense, especially when it is on sale!
But the present I bought myself that has given me so much joy in the few days I have had it, is a simple silver band. On the outside it says, "Love Life". Isn't that nice? A good reminder of a simple rule on life. But the best part of this sterling band is on the inside, hidden away like a secret garden, a whispered affirmation, two words........Be Brave. I love that. Those four words, Love Life, Be Brave seems like what I have always wanted my life to be about. Each time I look down on that shiny piece of metal circling my right hand ring finger I know that hidden from view, etched into the silver where it barely kisses my skin is "Be Brave." As this journey continues to weave in and out of predictable and unpredictable adventures those two words seem like a guardian angel sweetly whispering in my ear, Be Brave. Like my Mother from wherever she may be, sending me a message, Be Brave. A reminder when I feel the most alone, most vulnerable, most frightened, Be Brave. And like a loving look from a parent to a child, or the gentle stroke pushing the hair from their face, the words do not need to be said out loud. The look, the stroke, the love is there. It is felt. Be Brave.
It has helped me as I have been so tired from this play, to be brave. Last night when I went to the Opera House wondering where I would find the strength and energy to walk out on that stage and be a part of the talented cast and crew entertaining the audience, I whispered quietly under my breath, be brave. And I wore the head set and cued the actor's entrances on stage left. I set the cargo net and held it in my hands until Tim and George were set. I held the ladder to minimize how hard Tim hit it as he swung back and forth hanging upside down from a trapeze he had hung from the ceiling. I held the coat for the actor to slip their arms into, I talked into the mic and made Sir Perceval Cedric Buckthorn come alive. I held the bucket and tin cans tied together so Tim could slip them on and get back on stage. I walked through the door onto the boards and said my lines with intent playing the straight man to Tim's buffoon. I drank the spiked tea almost gagging it out across the orchestra pit when I was surprised. I yanked my beard and mustache off, dropping my hat and coat revealing a woman where a moment earlier a man had supposedly stood. I thanked the audience and the Directors, Sound and Stage Manager. I bragged how all of this work had been done by volunteers to bring quality entertainment to our little Rural Jefferson County. Hopefully breaking even or making money to go towards the maintenance and restoration of the Opera House. The center of our community. I thanked the audience for being a part of our show, and invited them to join the Opera House and to come back and see more shows. I looked out across the bright lights of the stage and saw my Dad and my dear friend Bob sitting there. I saw other familiar faces of friends and beloved ones sprinkled across the sparse audience. I did my best, and I did it all when I wanted to lie down and weep from exhaustion. Be Brave.
Dad saw the show again last night. My friend Bob came out and had dinner and sat with Dad during the show. It took a lot of the pressure off of me knowing that Bob, Jan and Carolyn were all there if Dad needed anything. I did not stay over at the Opera House last night with the few and brave of the cast and crew. I missed the fun of being a part of that select group, getting to know these beloved people even better. No, Bob and I helped Dad into the car and we drove home and then way later then I would like to be up, I finally succumbed to the exhaustion and slept in my own bed with my dogs and cats. Clustered up close and sweet, precious to have these creatures in my life.
I dreamed all night that I had lots and lots of animals. I would get up before light and start feeding them, stopping to give each one a few minutes of attention and affection. And all night dreamed this dream as I fed and loved each animal and there was a never ending line of more animals to feed and hug on, to stroke and pet and tell them how special they are. I woke up exhausted and thankful that it was only a dream. I do try and give my animals as much attention as possible. Why have them if I do not take the time to love and enjoy them. I have such sweet and loving creatures under my care and I try to nurture that everyday. They give me their love and affection and I try to repay that with care and attention. It means so much to me at night to nestle down under the covers and no matter which way I turn, there is someone to hug and give a little hug to as I close my eyes to sleep. As I wake and open my eyes and see the bright eyes of my "kids" up and ready for the day.
So the play is over, the proverbial light turned out. The stage has been struck. I helped very little. I would feel guilty over this, only I have given everything I have to this play. I have worked until I was exhausted. I tried throughout the show to do for the other actors. I made soap and wrote a silly label with key words from the play. "I can do that" soap. I baked for them, bought humus and other healthy snacks for them to pick at during the show. I bought chocolate and tried to make sure that each person's special needs were taken into consideration. That is not the same as doing the hard work, and we have had a small group of very hard working people who built this set and now broke it down. It was more then I could do. They understood. They know that I do as much as I can and then a little more, but no matter how much that is, it was not enough. But it was all I had.
After working upstairs moving cement blocks, boards, trash and trying to do my part, I walked down those old polished wooden steps to the Stage Company Annual Meeting. It was a small group of us seated close to each other, friends, actors, people focusing on bringing opportunities for art to our little community. Whether a play or a reading; donating all of our profit to the old brick building we all love or setting up a scholarship in honor of our beloved Colin, we are there working together. We may be few, but we are brave and large in spirit. Friends with a shared passion for the theater, working together. What a wonderful opportunity to be a part of this.
And now I have the chicken in the oven along with an acorn squash, yellow rice simmering on the stove top, dinner for Dad and I. I will go to bed early tonight, hopefully to start the healing process of this exhaustion from doing what I love. The exhaustion of playing with beloved ones. Exhaustion because I have cancer and simply can not do what I used to. But I can be brave and try. I can still get out there and live the passion, play with my friends, push myself as I learn more and improve my skills.
Be brave, love life.