Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Diet Coke Run

Typically when most people envision a Diet Coke run, they think of jaunting to a local convenience store to fill their mugs, or perhaps to a local favorite eatery to grab a refreshing drink. Some may think this is a new type of marathon race, considering how many of those are in existence. For me, a Diet Coke run was something I shared with a dear friend whenever we could work it into our crazy schedules. For several years, this good friend and I shared many things in common. Both Type 1 diabetics, we fought the same daily battle. Teaming up in diabetic rebellion, we faced doctor appointments together, and even ran the local county diabetic support group for many years. We always went for a Diet Coke run afterwards to touch base and toast our continuing war against a dreaded disease.

Today, I purchased two Diet Cokes from a local store, and headed up a lonely road. Stopping near a recent mound of earth, I pulled out a cheery bouquet of sunflowers, and both Diet Cokes. I placed the bouquet of sunflowers near the other flowers that were set there over the weekend, and placed one bottle of Diet Coke near the sunflowers. Then I pulled out the second bottle, removed its lid, and drank a toast to my friend. It was my way of showing respect and honor to Denise, letting her and her family know this valiant woman is not forgotten.

It is the traditionally celebrated Memorial Day today. Numerous tributes have been taking place all weekend. We've been decorating graves since Saturday, reminiscing about ancestors and close family members and friends who have passed from this mortal existence. Last night, we watched a tribute on TV for veterans who paid the ultimate sacrifice for their country. Tonight, I'll be helping my husband take down all of the American flags that were set in place on veterans' graves last Thursday night in the local cemetery. Since Kennon is the head of the Bennington Cemetery Board, it's one of his responsibilities to make sure those flags are only in place for the allotted time during this commemorative holiday.

There are many ways to remember those who are no longer in mortal mode. Each year, a close friend and I make the rounds of several cemeteries in our valley, leaving behind small tokens of love on the graves of six special people who were taken in an instant from our lives in a fatal car accident. It's something we have done now for 14 years--our way of letting their families know we're thinking of them on this tender day. We will continue to do so until we are no longer in mortal mode ourselves.

Some people think this is a morbid tradition. I've actually heard some people say that it's a form of worshiping the dead. I beg to differ. I was raised in a family who spent Memorial Weekend decorating the graves of loved ones. In my opinion, it is an important tradition. It was upon these occasions that I learned family stories and legends that are part of our treasured family history. These stories need to be passed onto future generations as we pay tribute to those who paved the way for us, and those who gave their lives for our freedom.

It is up to us to decide how we will honor those who have gone before. I know for many people, this is the weekend that marks the beginning of summer. Lots of camping, boating, and traveling adventures are taking place. There is nothing wrong with that, but I hope that at some point during this holiday, most will pause for a moment to ponder the lives of those who are no longer with us. Though I doubt the deceased  care how many flowers are left near their headstones, I suspect it does matter that they are not forgotten.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

You Know It's Time to Consult Miss Clairol When . . .

So there I was, standing innocently in line at a local store, minding my own business, when I was once again asked an insulting question: "Ma'am, do you qualify for the senior discount?" I'm sure the look on my face spoke volumes. ;)

I've noticed this kind of thing happens when the following trends take place:

A) I've had a bad week.
B) I've endured an arthritis flare-up from Hades.
C) My true roots begin to surface.
D) The clerk is a sweet young thing who pops chewing gum for entertainment.

This week I would have to add: E) All of the above. I tried to comfort myself by pondering that the diaper-clad clerk (okay, she was wearing jeans and a t-shirt) was trying to save me money. These days, that counts for quite a bit. On the other hand, I still feel insulted since I'm about ten years shy of the qualification standards for this thoughtful discount.

Since I wasn't prepared to offer a witty reply, I merely said something like: "Gee, I wish." To which the sweet young thing responded . . . "Oh, well, have a nice day."

Right. I've just been called an old person, and now I'm supposed to enjoy the rest of my day. In my defense, I've been fighting a family trend for years. I started going grey in my twenties. I have cousins who gave up dyeing their hair and were totally white-headed by the time they were in their forties. To my credit, I've been successfully keeping this character-building trait a secret for years. Evidently I'm slipping a bit.

So . . . I went to another store and bought a nice box of hair accentuation. I promptly used it the next day, and my husband remarked that it was good to see that I was feeling better. Ah. So maybe I was looking a bit gray around the gills this past week. I blame the weather. A lot. I suffer from a form of rheumatoid arthritis and when the barometric pressure changes, I become a great weather forecaster. This past week has been most impressive with regard to pressurization. The other day I felt like I was a walking canker sore; every part of my body hurt. And that's the day I was asked if I qualified for special privileges. 

Two weeks ago I received an invitation to join the AARP. Now if this stood for: Arty Articulate Really Cool Person, I would've been excited. (I know, then it would be the AARCP) Instead it means: Any Airhead can Ridicule this Person. To my credit, I am reaching a landmark birthday this year. The kind that is celebrated with black balloons, etc. That does not mean I'm ready for nursing home mode!

So . . . to counter all of this I am going to start an exercise program, keep my hair looking as it should at this age, and wear a badge that says: "Ask stupid questions at your own risk!" I will also attempt to keep my sense of humor intact, since it's looking like that will be the best defense of all.