More on Aging | My heart may not be as regular, but the beat goes on

Posted on: October 28th, 2013 by Donna

One of the terrible truths about getting older comes when you realize every task takes longer to complete; even things you did almost by rote demand scrutiny. You get up in the morning feeling a considerable urge to get to the bathroom before it’s too late and discover once there, that it is a little. You make the coffee and heed your taste buds’ cries for Corn Flakes with sliced bananas. There are about 3 tablespoons of Corn Flakes left in the box. The bananas are a squishy pudding encased in black leather.

After a breakfast of a tiny bowl of cereal, a slice of toast, and weak coffee, morning sunshine beckons you to come outside. It’s been a dry summer and your stroll through the garden turns depressing. A bright pink Shasta daisy stands alone by the path. The hostas have dried up, and coleus leaves are fading beneath their lively sprigs of seed heads.  The roses are gone too.

Stubborn weeds obscure even the tallest mums. Your gloves are not in the old mailbox where you store the trowel and bulb planter. It’s best then to delay pulling weeds; you can only hope the mums get enough sunshine to bloom anyway. Fall just isn’t fall without their orange, bronze and yellows.

In fact, the only thing worthwhile in the garden is the bench waiting under the arbor. The sun feels good enough that you nod off. Some time later, you startle awake to a nagging wonder if you’ve turned off the coffee pot. Inside again, you find the coffee maker is off but the carton of cream nestles in a swath of spilled grounds on the counter.

Even though it seems odd since you just had breakfast, hunger creeps up on you as you put the cream back in the refrigerator. Perhaps it’s because you’re in the kitchen again. Then again, it’s not so odd when you look up at the clock and find it’s after 2. An egg salad sandwich sounds perfect. If only there was more than the heel of bread left…

The Problem With Getting Older

Posted on: January 29th, 2013 by Donna 1 Comment

In A Song in Every Silence I wrote about date rape, abortion, an unwed mother and adoption. With little knowledge of women of similar experiences, I told only my story. I never tire of sharing this story; it’s filled with hope and living examples of God’s grace. I’m thrilled if readers or audience members share their thoughts.

As a new author, I take advice seriously. Before the book came out, I established a web site and began a blog. I wrote about fun things. Occasionally I tackled a topic of some importance. I made mild suggestions, but I didn’t have the audacity to direct any readers. And then I learned a blog is advice or information offered by an expert in a particular field. Gadzooks! The only expertise I possessed was that of a mother, a wife, a nurse and a teller of stories.

This month Echo Garrett of My Orange Duffle Bag fame suggested I focus my blog; hence, the departure from my usual post to something almost everyone lives through, for a while at least. I’m committed to writing stories about aging, its challenges, and how to address some of them to avoid the dreaded Nursing Home. Although quite gray haired myself, I can hardly come forth as an expert, but this topic is close to my heart. In fact, it’s the center of my next book. The suggestions and observations I keep come from my experience as a daughter, a daughter-in-law, a nurse, and a certified assisted living administrator. There’s nothing quite like having one hundred and ten parents to teach you things few others share.

You’ve most likely heard the expression “You’re as young as you feel.” While researching this book I asked more than one hundred ladies and gentlemen with varying degrees of gray in their hair, “How old do you think of yourself as being?” The majority said they felt ten to fifteen years younger than their real age. Many felt more than twenty years younger, although they elbowed one another and laughed adding, “Until I tried to do something physical I used to do without thought.” Some would ruefully say it depended upon the weather, what they were doing at the time of the introspection, or if they were ill. Some remarked how glancing at themselves in a mirror caught them off guard. “Who’s that old (lady/geezer)?”

I don’t recall my mother ever lamenting getting old. She lived to be ninety-three, and even though bed-ridden the last four years of her life, she maintained her wit and a sense of wonder at each day. Caring for her during that time, I had many opportunities to tell her how much I loved her; how I’d miss her when she died. She answered, “I know. My mother told me when she was in her eighties that she still missed her mother.”

Mom loved to warn me, “Just you wait. When I was your age I’d go in to a room and wonder, ‘What did I come in here for?’” I told her I was doing that (on occasion) in my fifties. She’d nod and smile up at me, “Now I look around and ask, ‘What room is this?’”

I didn’t know then I had a treasury of research material in that bed, or that I’d become a writer, so I never asked her how old she felt. I’ll be a tad grayer, but I’ll let you in on more next month. Meanwhile, thanks for reading and sharing. Oh, and in case you’re wondering, I’m feelin’ about forty today.

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Christmas Anticipation

Posted on: December 17th, 2012 by Donna 5 Comments

Christmas—the season of frenzied anticipation—is about a week away. Winter days here in East Texas start out chilly, and although their length grows shorter each week, the afternoon sun on my face is pleasantly warm as I walk to pick up the mail. The catalog avalanche burying my box since Halloween has rolled downhill to a gradual stop. Back in the office again, I open email and see on-line merchandizing still zips through cyberspace with offers of free shipping and tantalizing cautions to order by X to arrive before Christmas.

I’m too old to be shamed into decorating every nook and cranny of my home with gorgeous Christmas ornaments, Santa, reindeer, and similar paraphernalia by Thanksgiving afternoon. Or at all. On the rare occasion I venture out of my neighborhood, whether in stores large or small, I find gifts promoted as must have, newest, or best are picked over and reduced yet another few percent. The presents I bought, made, or promised are on the way to be opened elsewhere, in someone else’s time. My children are over forty, and grandchildren too far away to visit often, so it’s just sweetie and me again this year.

And as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. His coming is the reason I add the few touches I find most settling. Christmas poinsettia reflected in shiny gold placemats, fresh greenery and berries circling a fat red candle, and a small lit tabletop tree strung with tiny garlands of silver and pearls. After the sun stripes sky and lake tonight with orange and pink and blue and then slips behind the distant hills I plug in the tree. It shines while I prepare supper, waits for me through the evening, whispers and beckons as my husband retires to our bedroom.

It’s in that hour I sit in a dark room lit only by a silly little tree and reminisce and allow myself to feel all the hymns of love and joy that recount His birth. I am not frenzied, but I almost tremble in anticipation. Oh, Holy Night divine.

Happy Holidays from Donna Paul

Posted on: November 30th, 2012 by Donna

Hoping you had a wonderful Thanksgiving… Wishing you and your family a very Merry Christmas! Here’s the latest news from the lake 2012 holiday newsletter.

Road Trips

Posted on: September 11th, 2012 by Donna 2 Comments

Odd how one’s perspective of riding in a car changes with age. Infants fall asleep before you’re hardly backed out of the driveway. Toddlers are still bouncing in their car seats two hours later. Grade schoolers can come up with a million questions per mile, interspersed only with the ultimate challenge question and statement: “Are we there yet, cuz I gotta go…”

Tweens, who once buried their noses in chapter books, now ignore all else but their own thumb output. Along with older counterparts, they are welded to communications devices and wired by the ears to hair-splitting, molar jarring music with no discernable lyrics. They can not only sleep in these accoutrements, thumbs twitching, but manage their Sonic ordering, tray, and eating as well.

One of the first cars I recall from my youth was a dark green, torpedo-shaped Kaiser with seats covered in a brown sheered fabric that was at once soft, but prickly. In the north county, where winter temperatures sometimes drop ten to forty degrees below zero, front seat passengers (always Mom and Dad) endured scalding heat from the floor vent. For the comfort of us three kids, a large woolen lap blanket hung from a thick leather cord stretched across the seat back. A strap hung from the door post to aid passengers hoisting themselves up and into the car.

By the time I arrived at high school in the early sixties, newer cars were long and low with  pointy fins. Convertibles, of course, were the ultimate. Transportation for my summer jobs involved a series of bargain cars, each of which had more than its fair share of serious issues. Most notable was one with no reverse gear. The next one knocked so loudly that my approach could be heard for blocks ahead. I worked hard at making that darned thing throw a rod. Blew past a cop going almost eighty in a fifty. No car chase was involved, no accident, no ticket. I clunked through the entire summer with a constant red face.

Nursing school graduation involved a brand new midnight teal Mustang Fastback. That baby was a joy to drive and brought me much comfort. Crammed in with a lot of stuff we gathered along the way, my mother and I drove and laughed together from New York to California and back. Fair warning: think twice about a road trip with someone who doesn’t drive and has no clue about navigation, road maps, exit signs, minimum stopping time at high speeds for missed turns, etc.  Detroit must have heard some of my frustrations and you can probably thank me for On Star, Tom-Tom, and all the rest of the navigation equipment in your new car now.

Later in life, some couples end up as one driver. One can’t see and the other isn’t able to control the wheel, brakes, or gas pedal; turns involve one saying when and the other easin’ around the corner, applying the brakes every two feet until they reach the closest rest stop bathroom.

And life comes around full circle. I’m often asleep before Sweetie gets us out of the subdivision, but so far manage to always wake up to tell him I gotta go before I find I already went.

The Ron Paul I Know

Posted on: August 20th, 2012 by Donna 1 Comment

In July, 1968 a boyishly handsome physician from Pittsburgh, PA walked through the door of the Texas ob/gyn practice where I worked. Dr. Ron Paul’s reputation as a well-trained, compassionate doctor spread like wildfire throughout the county. The number of his patients increased by a third, then doubled. Not only did his patients love him, his staff did too. He made each of us feel we worked with him, not for him.

Dr. Paul was not only a great doctor, but also an excellent teacher. In three months I learned more as his private scrub nurse in surgery and deliveries than I’d gleaned in a year from his predecessor. I went to the hospital for many of our patients’ deliveries and cried at the beauty of every single one. Always an encourager, he also expanded my role as office nurse to include patient educator and practice manager.

As the only obstetrician/gynecologist in our area, for three years Ron took call 24/7 and never left Lake Jackson. He and Carol lived in a modest house and put in a pool so they could enjoy what little recreational time he had with their children. He worked hard every day, and whether striding down the office halls, up flights of hospital stairs (we seldom took the elevator) or into a delivery room, keeping pace with Dr. Paul was anything but a southern stroll.

He didn’t limit my instruction to medicine and surgery, however. While he drove us in his blue pickup truck between the office and the hospital, he broadened my understanding of government, economics, and politics. I recall as though it was yesterday when he began to teach me the real meaning of inflation. “Donna, one day bread will cost a dollar a loaf.” Preposterous! I laughed out loud. It was 1969, and a loaf of bread was 35 cents.

Even as a specialist, Dr. Paul’s fees were very reasonable. Most patients had great insurance coverage; we still took good care of the ones who didn’t. Had I not been privy to his lively discussions with other surgeons in the break room, I doubt I’d understood the changes taking place in healthcare as a result of government’s intervention. I didn’t know the word lobby meant anything other than a pretty place in a fancy hotel. It was sort of fun standing in line, chatting with friends at a gas pump at six o’clock in the morning before the station’s supply ‘ran out.’ The fun part didn’t last very long.

Ron always read a lot. Serious books. Newsletters with frightening headlines. And one evening in 1973, I stood in his living room while he told me he was running for Congress. I cried for three straight days. It scared me to death to think that he might actually win and leave his medical practice. Even then, Ron led by example rather than force, and his passion for liberty was contagious. Thus, I became the Original Ron Paul Groupie. I walked beside him on our Wednesday afternoons off, knocked on doors and handed out push cards. He’d shake someone’s hand and quietly, but confidently say, “Hi, I’m Ron Paul, and I’m running for Congress.” I hosted my first political fund-raiser—a coffee—and attended dozens more events where Ron spread the news of his liberty-based beliefs. The rallies and events grew and grew. After the conclusion of a huge one in Houston, Ron called me up on stage to meet the honored guest who came to lend his support, Governor Ronald Reagan! In January, I went to Washington where I watched Ronald Earnest Paul sworn in to Congress.

Back then, I saved pennies because I couldn’t afford to buy gold or even junk silver. Ron encouraged me to prepare for tough times by taking other small, positive steps despite a modest income. He introduced me to books, seminars, and lectures by economists like Ludwig von Mises, Hans Sennholz, and Henry Hazlitt. Over the years, I met Leonard Reed, Murray Rothbard, and Dr. Gary North, then influential writers Tom Woods, Judge Andrew Napolitano, and dear Lew Rockwell. Through Ron, I also met and understood the warnings of immigrants who lived and fled the horrors of fiat currencies and government oppression.

And, the rest, as they say, is history, except for a few personal observations. Despite all the years of cameras, clamor, signs, banners, marches, money bombs, interviews, and accolades, Ron Paul is neither complacent nor conceited. He doesn’t take one follower in a crowd for granted, doesn’t expect one vote until he has explained his stance, treats every penny of a contribution and each dollar you and I pay in taxes as if it were the very last of his own.

I abhor the times he’s criticized for a No vote which results in some saying he is uncaring. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Congressman Paul stands on principled tenets, and cannot be enticed off his straight path of dedication to our constitution and individual liberty. Always reading and studying, Ron Paul continues to write and educate others with great passion about the worthy principles of our republic, the dangers and injustices of a large, ever-intrusive government, the wrong and waste of plunging in and leaving bases around the world, and the wiles of the Federal Reserve. Thrilled by all supporters, he’s joyful over those thoughtful young college students in Ann Arbor, MI who first chanted “End the Fed.”

Perhaps because I’m a slow learner, or maybe because I missed working with him every day, or the fact that I hated to see him treated with such disrespect, it took me years to understand that education is the key to political action, then change.

Recently, I had a tough time after a few unkind remarks surfaced when Ron mentioned my book on Facebook. Although painfully obvious to me those persons hadn’t read my story, their remarks cut me to the quick—until I remembered what the good doctor often told me ages ago. “Don’t let it get you down; it’s just part of their disease.” Despite constant vilifying by the media, he doesn’t back away from espousing the truths he holds dear, and remarkably, remains even-tempered and positive. Through all the years I’ve known him, Ron Paul stands tall and committed to freedom and liberty in his uniquely unassertive and humble way. I had the privilege of witnessing his last swearing in to Congress, and then seeing Rand sworn in to the Senate the same morning.

Ron takes his faith, his health, and his role as head of his family very seriously. His love for Carol and their children, and their children, is always evident. Just as he took his Hippocratic Oath to heart, he believes he is responsible for each of his actions as a citizen and a Congressman. He is a champion for us.

I have no doubt the legacy of Ron Paul is historic, and I for one, burst with pride at knowing him. Happy birthday, Ron.  With love, from the Original Ron Paul Groupie.

A Day at the Lake Newsletter

Posted on: July 20th, 2012 by Donna

For my July Slog (blog) post I wanted to use a quarterly newsletter I’ve started. I’ll share news concerning our cottage and cabin rentals, as well as what’s happening in my writing world. Although I love having visitors to my website, if you’d prefer I’ll deliver A Day at the Lake with Donna Paul straight to your email once a quarter.  Just drop me a line at donna@donnagpaul.com. To read my newsletter, please click here: July 2012 Newsletter.

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YGTRT!

Posted on: June 4th, 2012 by Donna

Looks like an acronym for yogurt, doesn’t it?  Strange how the mind works sometimes; YGTRT is my own little Twitter-type terminology for You’ve Got To Read This. I’d only add the exclamation point for something extraordinary.

Knowing me fairly well, though, I can admit that I’d use the exclamation point for the type of engaging book I’d keep reading. One hard to put down no matter how much housework I had left to do, what time my husband was due home, or even if it meant I’d have less than the thirty-five minutes I need to get showered, dressed, and out the door for an important event.

Reading is a huge part of my life. Now you know why I keep my hair short and opt for casual dress. Books are on my sun porch table, beside my chair in the living room, on my nightstand, and if not in the car, in my purse. Just ask my sweetie about the heft of my purse—or how difficult it is for him to get to the TV remote sometimes.

I know people who retain books forever. Much to my chagrin, I’m not one of them. I often can’t recall the title of a book, its author, or scenes; I just know I liked it, and hence, my stuffed library shelves. It’s one of those not so great things I inherited from my mother. She always said forgetting story details was a real blessing, though, because she could pick a book from her shelf and be more than half-way through it before it seemed a tad familiar. And even then, she’d add, “I couldn’t guess the ending.”

I’m reading at least four books this week. One about Texas history, one about grief and baking pies, one of a young woman rejected by townspeople who believe she is evil, and one about Jesus’ life. That doesn’t count the two I’ve got going in my Kindle.

Writing is lonely, frustrating, maddening, and addicting. Yet tens of thousands of us still write, search for agents and publishers, accept rejections and put ourselves right back out there for the world to judge. Even successful authors agonize that their hit might be followed by a dud. In one way or another almost every writer I know—and I know scores—prays for success.

Selling books is a hundred times more challenging than writing one. If I find a writer who moves me, or has a way with words that keeps the pages turning, I seek out his other efforts. Many, many writers are starving artists. So, if I mention a book title or author’s name on my Facebook page, or update my status, or Tweet something and it’s followed by YGTRT! I hope you read it too. Pass it along with your own YGTRTs. Maybe you and I can start something here.

My first suggestion is The Butterfly Effect—Everything You Do Matters by Andy Andrews.

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Waiting

Posted on: April 27th, 2012 by Donna 3 Comments

I feel like it’s almost Christmas. I’ve had my bath and pulled on my favorite nightie. I’ve settled by the tree, been dazzled by the multicolored lights winding through the branches up to the ceiling. I’ve stayed awake through every one of the twelve records in our album of Dickens’ Christmas Carol. And even though I’ve heard it every Christmas I can remember, I still shivered at the Ghost of Christmas past as he shook his heavy chains. As Daddy slept in his chair I rattled presents that looked as though they might be mine.

My mother has called me to the kitchen and said it was time for bed. I’ve hugged her extra tight, leaned around her waist close to the big pottery bowl, lifted the edge of the towel off the top, closed my eyes and inhaled. Puffy coffee cake dough oozed the distinctive scent of yeast. Nearby, my favorite blue mixing bowl held sugar and cinnamon. I’ve smiled up at Mama and she’s nodded okay. I pinched off a big wad of soft white dough, swirled it through the cinnamon sugar and popped it in my mouth.

Mama swatted my behind and told me to get on upstairs and brush my teeth. She and Daddy would come up to hear my prayers and say goodnight. After they turned out the light I’d hum Silent Night and listen for our car backing out of the driveway as Daddy left to play organ for Christmas Eve service. I’d stare at the ceiling envisioning the wonders of the next morning until I could no longer keep my eyes open.

And if this were that night, I’d wake up tomorrow morning to find a big box of my books from Tate Publishing Company. It took six years to get to this point. I’ve read and proofed the story, rewrote and edited it some more, sighed over the cover choices, gasped in delight at seeing the layout, and cried over the gracious endorsements. A Song in Every Silence will be here very soon and the waiting will be over. It will indeed be a morning of wonder.

Riding in Trucks

Posted on: March 16th, 2012 by Donna 2 Comments

Most Saturdays when I was a little girl, I’d hike myself up into the cab of Daddy’s ugly green Dodge Power Wagon. Cracked, stiff seat leather scratched the backs of my bare legs. Cement, pipe tobacco, and wet dog smells swirled inside my nose, and made me sneeze until I used both hands to crank down the window.

By the time we turned off Fulton and onto Ridge Street, I’d traded places with my collie, Prince, and scooted close to my father. Prince stuck his long snout into the air and took long sniffs as his white ruff flattened against his shoulder. That big dog made a great wind break.

Close as I sat to him, Daddy’s hand brushed my leg as he shifted gears. Once he got in to third, the heater blasted hot air. I played at being tortured, holding my legs near the heat until they’d burn and I pulled back.

The best thing about riding in that truck involved singing our favorite songs. Daddy’s deep baritone voice filled the cab. My father owned a concrete products company, but he was educated as a music teacher. So, even though we weren’t at the piano, he critiqued my diction and tonality while we sailed along. Sixty years later, I still hear his voice, practice those techniques, and appreciate his lessons.

I don’t recall dating anyone who drove a truck in New York. When I married and moved to Texas though, I found truck country.  As a young nurse I went to deliver babies with Dr. Ron Paul in the late sixties and some of the seventies. We travelled between the hospital and the office in his blue truck. It was clean, had air conditioning, and cloth seats. On the way, Ron talked about inflation, burgeoning government, and our right to liberty. At first it was all over my head, but he was a patient teacher. I learned important premises in that little class room.

I’ve always enjoyed seeing young women in trucks with their men, sittin’ pretty and proud, even though seatbelts and bucket seats changed the geography a little. I once knew a couple in their seventies who rode in their truck joined at the hip. Whether going for groceries or fishing in the bay, she always sat there right next to him, like they were kids going to the drive-in movies. I find few things cuter than seeing a big cowboy hat on a dad and a small version perched on his little guy. I’ll admit to once following a mite sitting next to his hero down a dusty road for a ways. I still smile at the memory of them tilting their faces up to the sun, laughing together in that private, beautiful space of a beat-up old ranch truck.

Safety restraints encase me in our big white Tundra now. It’s our third truck. We tend to buy big, used, automatic ones, put ’em right to work, keep the oil changed, and drive them a couple hundred thousand miles more. They’ve hauled furniture, household goods and books, and the boxed-up trivia one collects in a long marriage. Not always the fanciest top-of-the-line models, but work horses doing a good job.

I swear I’m not moving again, but I still have fun riding along with my sweetie, reading aloud to him, both of us getting all caught up in a story. He says I haven’t really had fun since I didn’t ever sit on an overturned crate while he stood and drove a Divco milk truck on dates. It’s okay I missed part of his life and that truck.

I’m comfortable and easy in my place inside our Toyota cab. Whether I’m learning something new from the radio or another writer, or feeling the intimacy of my husband taking my hand for a minute, I feel blessed and loved. And, really, isn’t that what trucks are all about?

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