Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Ramblings of Riley: Letting Go of Mom#links#links#links

The Ramblings of Riley: Letting Go of Mom#links#links#links

Simply Me- A Tribute

To Steve—A Tribute

Simply Me

From time to eternity you now find your rest-
Letting go of earthly things to be better blessed...
You walked the journey we call life-
You're music was not want of strife...

Perfect-- none of us could ever be-
We walked what we knew as far as we could see...
Out of step from what others claim-
You lived--and breathed not to be the same...

Music was your friend and a way to find-
Answers to questions of things we mind...
Les Paul, Gibson, and Martin you called friends-
Whom you shared with others with hearts on mend...

Rest easy now your road is left for others to walk-
To hear your music as they silently talk...
Of melodies of life fast and slow-
The way you played it and let it flow...

Eternity is time standing still you have found-
Now the beauty of streets of gold and angelic sound...
Play your smooth rhythms and driving leads-
In harmony with God--- you are now free... to be simply me.

Thanks Steve for sharing your life, your way, without apology.

Allen R. Jeffries
Aka, Jeff Riley

Monday, August 24, 2009

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Happy Ville

Happy Ville
Welcome to Happy Ville the sign read. Please check your glumness at the door before proceeding, it continued. Sadness, anger, bitterness, crying, depression shall not enter these gates. Happy Ville will provide joy, peace, tranquility, fun and laughter and will be your ever present companions.
Upon depositing my baggage upon the outskirts of Happy Ville, I proceeded through the gates. God met me there. Not like I pictured Him sitting on a big white throne, hurling lightning bolts at everyone on Earth. He was personal, jovial, a warm presence with a sense of Supreme assurance. We walked on for a while just chatting about good things. He listened very well to all I had to talk about. I could talk of none but good for I had checked my baggage at the door. I told Him how I remembered my mother and how she loved to laugh and he nodded his head in an understanding manner.
God pointed to a beautiful house, tall and majestic, laden in gold. The finest of architectural details were well apportioned on the outside. Looking at the house, I felt an overwhelming peace enmesh my soul. I heard laughter emanating from within. I heard my mother’s voice. I ask God if I could take a peak in and He escorted me to what appeared to be a window. He, with a smile on His face said for me to go ahead and peer in, taking great delight in my child like enthusiasm. The window was more like a cloud, yet transparent. I peered in and saw my mom arrayed in beauty of white, fully herself in appearance and with joy abounding.
We walked on and the further we walked the more beauty of Happy Ville was revealed. Water fountains that sounded like calm winds gently blowing through the air. Gardens of flowers and roses of every kind and color, more brilliant than the colors of a rainbow lined the walkways. There were strands of towering trees gently swaying as I walked by. I noticed a gardener busy tending the garden. He whistled beautiful old Gospel songs as he went about his work. I ask God who he was. God called him over and I instantly knew him. My dad gave me a hug that wrapped me in warmth much like a gentle fire feels when sitting next to a fireplace on a cold winter morning.
Everything was draped in a peace that was difficult to understand, yet I knew. The tranquil quietness was pierced with bursts of more laughter and harmonic singing in the distance. The sound of children merrily playing echoed throughout Happy Ville. There was no cold or heat in the air only a feeling of contentment embraced me. I looked up into the bright beautiful skies above and saw birds of every kind peacefully soaring and playfully indulging one another. There was no sun yet the light that prevailed over Happy Ville was bright enough to blind but I could see perfectly.
God was wonderfully enchanted with how I appeared while we were walking. I could tell He was well pleased with my excitement at all of what I had seen and heard. God was like a doting father with his child that he loves and adores and only wants his happiness.
As we strolled further along the walkways, more and more people began to appear onto me. I suddenly heard my name being called out from behind me in an old voice I once knew. “Jeff”, the old voice with a hint of Dutch German in it called out. As I turned to see, I saw my old friend and mentor, Art Haar. Art had been 90 years old and was now as lively and jovial as could be. With his rotund belly, steely hands, and grandfatherly gaze he looked me in the eyes and said, “I know longer have to kick sand in the devil’s face, Jeff.” With that he gave be a big hug and as he always would tell me” I love ya.” I laughed with him as we remembered those times we met and talked about better things that he now had. How wonderful I felt.
As I turned back around I was suddenly standing in the midst of a host of others and great commotion of excitement was all around. I had never seen such a display of joyful anticipation in everyone’s face. Though I knew not their names, strangely I knew them all. I could sense whose mom, dad, brothers, sisters, husbands and wife’s they once were. The overflowing abundance of tranquil joy in their faces gave me an assured hope that all is well with them in Happy Ville
I could hardly contain myself and thought what a wonderful place Happy Ville is. There was no place like it. Time was gone and no one hurried. There was no day, no night, only the eternal light that never stopped shining.
God then told me that he wanted to show me something extra special. We entered into a great expanse. Untold millions through the ages filled this expanse, yet there was still more room. All eyes were directed toward one person walking amongst them. Though millions surrounded Him, it was as though He knew everyone personally, face to face. No one had a better view than another. I then asked God “Who is this?” “It is my Son in whom I’m well pleased” He replied. I gazed upon Him and knew that I was complete.
I awoke from the night. Still groggy from sleep, I realized that Happy Ville had been a dream. I lay next to my wife and calmness, peace, and happiness over whelmed me. Though a dream, it was real enough to allow me to escape for a while my mortal bonds and conflicts of this life knowing someday I will return to Happy Ville--Today I will have contentment---

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Letting Go of Mom


“Don’t you think that Mom belongs in a nursing home?” my sister argued.
“No, I don’t” I responded. “As long as we are able to help take care of her in our home we will.” I continued.
“How will you do that?” my brother asked.
“I don’t have a clue but we will figure it out.” I responded.
Thus began an odyssey that would challenge my will, patience, and relationships, but would provide to all involved a look into our futures through the eyes of learning to let go.
Most of our lives are spent learning to let go. As a baby we learned to let go of the bottle or breast that fed and comforted us. As a child we learned to let go of that special toy or blanket that we drug around that gave us security. As we grow and mature we learn to let go of everything from friends, feelings, anger, bitterness, jobs, and bad habits to misplaced hope, dreams and aspirations.
However, letting go requires learning how to let go. Sometimes learning is “on the job training” especially when taking care of someone seriously ill and when that someone is your mother.
Mom came to stay with us in September of 1996 after her husband had passed away. My brother and I converted my garage in Houston, Texas into a 1 bedroom apartment designed to accommodate moms changing needs over time.
At the time she was still in good shape, but had suffered from a series of mini-strokes called TIA( transient ischemic attacks). Unlike a stroke which does more permanent brain damage, TIA’s usually cause temporary problems but worsen with time. In mom’s case the TIA’s became more common and each one took her down slowly leaving her a shell of who she was. Many trips to doctors, hospitals, emergency rooms, and clinics also opened my eyes to how elderly people are over-medicated as a quick fix and how little attention is given to the stress of family caregivers.
During the 3 year time frame we took care of mom we would learn to deal with caseworkers, counselors, bureaucracy, doctors, nurses and caregivers outside of our selves. We where blessed to have picked some excellent caregivers that would provide the needed relief for my wife and I.
It was a time of reuniting and reminiscing about times gone but remembered fondly. A time of re-bonding, laughing and saying things that needed to be said. Despite the difficulty of the task it was a good time.
As mom’s condition worsened, we learned how to feed, bathe and change her diapers and even resuscitate her on more than one occasion although she didn’t want to be.
“I bet you never thought you would have to do this.” mom quipped to me one time while she could still talk, and while I was cleaning her up.
“Mom, you raised 7 kids , you fed us, changed our diapers, provided clothes, shelter and support, so now it’s our turn to do the same for you.” I responded.
Toward the end of her journey on earth, we weren’t sure she knew who we where. At some point along the way, I had learned to let go of the mom I knew a little at a time, of the time we shared, words spoken, and memories established.
I realize that not everyone is equipped emotionally to handle these experiences but if you are determined to do so, build a solid support system and be prepared for one of the biggest challenges of life.
I’m grateful for my wife, children, family, friends and strangers along the way that pitched in. Without them the task would have been impossible to complete.
November 5th, 1999 was both one of the saddest and happiest days of my life as mom quietly let go at the age of 78 to be with the Lord and to re-unite with my dad.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Tale of Tales

Tale of Tales
When I think of the Grace of God, I must be in the top 10 of His examples. When I reflect on my 58 years and all the things I tried and that I’m still alive, only his Grace could be the answer.
I was raised in a family of 7 children so mischief was my middle name. It started early with me and matches. There was something about striking them and watching the glow. By the time I was 6 years old I was considering a career in arson or pyromania. I wasn’t content with striking them. It was more fun to set dry fields on fire around our house in Lafayette, Louisiana. One of my playmates across the street Cyndi who was my age was Bonnie to my Clyde. She loved to watch me set fires and I was eager to impress her with my fiery abilities. Until one day, I got caught. An especially dry field across the street and next to Cyndi’s house was set ablaze by a single match. Up until then, I was able to put small fires out by stomping on them before they got out of control. Not this time! A wind caught the flame and before we knew it a major fire had erupted. I tried putting it out with a garden hose from her house, but to no avail. I tried spitting, stomping, throwing rocks on it, but this day nothing worked. We both split the scene and before I knew it fire trucks could be heard with sirens blazing in the distance. Cyndi snitched on me to her mom, probably to save herself, and my mom prosecuted me seriously with a switch of my choice! They had nabbed me---
Figuring a career in arson and pyromania was not a wise choice, I embarked on my next move. My mom and dad put all of their cancelled checks in an ice cooler. Now, being a 6 year old, I didn’t know anything about economics or money. I thought those checks were cash, after all my parents used them to get whatever they wanted. So, late at night when they were asleep, I crept into the closet where they kept them. I reached in and grabbed a handful of checks thinking I had hit the jackpot. The next day I rode my bicycle down to the local Pak-A-Sac and proceeded to the checkout stand with candy, toys, soda’s bubble gum and pretty much everything else I wanted. The store clerk looking down upon me suspiciously rang them up and gave me the total. I pulled out my new found wealth and deposited them on the counter fully expecting to leave with my purchase. The clerk laughing told me that checks weren’t money and to put it all the goods back up. I didn’t understand. I still don’t!
Again, frustrated with the lack of career paths, I decided on my next move. My next door neighbor, Frankie was a year younger than me. Frankie was kind of a sissy so I could push him around. However I was afraid of his mom who always seemed to be yelling at him, FRANKIE!!! Frankie got an allowance of 50 cents a week and I didn’t get anything but whippings. This wasn’t right in my eyes. So, I thought extortion could be a career path. One day I caught Frankie outside away from his Frankenstein mother. I shoved him up against a wall under the carport and told him that if he didn’t give me his 50 cents I was going to beat him to a pulp. Since he was wimpy and I was older he readily gave in. Handing over the loot to me I told him if he told anyone there would be trouble. Thinking my career in extortion was off to a good start, I hurried to the Pac-A-Sac and redeemed my parents cancelled checks with extortion money from little Frankie and this time I left with some goods. By the time I got back home, my mom and Frankie’s mom were lying in wait and this time, mom had a finely tuned switch made of the finest Louisiana hardwoods waiting for me. Wop---- I’m still looking for you Frankie!
What’s a 6 year old suppose to do? Life was harsh and I couldn’t find my direction. One day, my older brother Mike and our next door neighbor Charlie invited me to tag alone. At the far end of the neighborhood was a small cattle ranch that raised Brahma bulls. There was an especially mean one. He was a huge black snort snottin bull that would happily end my life if he had a chance. He also had a reputation for being able to jump the barbed wire fence that kept him in. He didn’t like passer-bys, especially little rebel rousing kids like myself walking by and yelling at him. This day he would get his chance. I’ve been known to take a dare or two. Mike and Charlie dared me to get in the pasture with him. They told me that if I got in there and started laughing at the bull, that he would chase me. It sounded like fun to me and maybe this was the beginning of a new career in rodeo. I slowly crawled through the barb wire fence. Killer bull was on the other side of the field so I felt safe and was emboldened to run at him yelling, laughing, and waving my hands. As I looked back over my shoulder to show Mike and Charlie what a rustler I was all I saw was their backs as they had taken off running across the street, through another barb wire fence. I turned around and much to my surprise this snot roaring behemoth of a bull was on a dead run at me. The ground was shaking, dust was flying, birds were scattering and my little Louisiana ass was running for a nearby tree. Scampering up that tree next to a huge bayou filled with alligators and water moccasins as big as this bull, I plotted my next career path as I waited for the bull to give up on having me for lunch that day-----
To be continued----

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Monday, August 3, 2009

Staying Healthy-I Think

Staying Healthy-I Think
I recently read an article that said eating fish may ward off dementia--- but I forgot where I put it. If I remember correctly though, it pointed to new evidence that a diet rich in fish, could solve the world’s supply of old people in Florida. This is groundbreaking news. Florida is the capital of dementia as evidenced by the recent real estate boom of buying cheap and going into foreclosure.
This study was done on older people in Asia and Latin America in Miami, Florida. This hypothesis was carried out by The National Brotherhood of Crab Fisherman who carried older Asians and Latino’s on long and unproductive fishing expeditions in the North Sea of Cuba. If they survived the trip they got to live. If they didn’t then it would prove that they didn’t eat enough fish and most likely dined on crabs and puked their internal organs up. This study was funded by a grant from The Fool Taxpayers in America Campaign and sanctioned by The World Federation of Wasting More Money Society.
The study proved that 20% of those who consumed more fish got fatter, grew gills and could swim faster than those that didn’t. The 20% increase in consumption spiked fish futures on Wall Street causing wide spread panic among traders. This drove up prices on speculation that 80% of the test subjects haven’t bought fish yet. The other 80% who didn’t consume more fish, bought stocks short, causing a massive sell off. The Obama administration stepped in under the Freedom for Fish Act and appointed a fish czar to oversee the smell on Wall Street.
The article also cited” that those who ate fish nearly every day of the week were almost 20% less likely to develop dementia than those who ate fish a few times a week.” I’m going to have to Forrest Gump you on that one. I’m not a smart man but momma always told me that there wasn’t any difference between “nearly every day and a few times a week.” Higher mathematics these days!
A comparative study done on “red” meat showed that those who ingested mass quantities of steaks were more likely to have dementia. They were more likely to ride in rodeos, drink beer, forget who they were, shoot guns at people, live in Texas and generally not give a crap-ola about eating fish. I’m sure if they just ate meat and not “red” meat their dementia could at least be pro- longed until after the week end was over.
Now, fish will come with a warning label- “eating this product could cause you to never forget anything your mother-in-law says”------ thus sending meat futures in a stampede on Wall Street.