Category: Uncategorized

Declutter – What I Find

As I continue decluttering, I found an old poem in a file. The file was not about poems, but there it was. 

When the writing of This Path We Share: Reflecting on 60 Years of Marriage sort of came to a standstill because I could not figure out what it was about, someone suggested that I write a poem. Good idea, because writing poetry has always helped me clarify my thoughts and feelings. The poem is not in the book, of course, but I thought perhaps you might enjoy reading it. 

What I Really Meant to Say

I thought to write a lovely book
about the paths our marriage took

I wanted all the world to know
that love can grow and grow and grow

that magic doesn't disappear
as long as we just persevere

I wrote of babies and of kids
of accidents and minor skids

with cancer added to the mix
of things we know that we can't fix

I've told of sadness and of joy
events that threatened to destroy

the fabric of our lives thus far
or snuff out our bright, blazing star

Misfortunes came, misfortunes went
I can't believe they're heaven-sent

so faith's been tested on the way
yet is not solved up to this day

I meant to write a lovely book
and simply try to overlook

the times our marriage fell from grace
when we could find no meeting place

but all I found to say to you–
somehow our love has brought us through

© March 20, 2007 Lois Tschetter Hjelmstad

I wonder what else is hidden in the stacks and stacks of paper that surround me?!

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s January. Declutter.

Last January I wrote a series of posts on decluttering, because this is the month I try to get that done in real life. I still have hope that I will get to it this month, but I’m getting a frightfully late start, so we’ll see. Who wants to declutter in February, the month of love?

However, we can start with this story:

My dear mother died almost eighteen years ago and my beloved father followed three years later. (Those numbers astound me. It seems as if it could have been yesterday. Of course time has mitigated the pain somewhat and I don’t think about them every hour on the hour anymore, but it still hurts to actually stop and look at their photographs hanging in the hallway. Most days I avert my eyes. And I would give almost anything to spend an afternoon with them to “catch up.”)

When my dad died suddenly and unexpectedly, leaving us three grown children orphaned, I had just had major abdominal surgery. In the ensuing six weeks, my brother, my sister, and I engaged in the usual frenzied activity that often follows a death. We cleaned out his belongings; we held an estate sale; we sold the house. In our hurry, a lot of paper-related items came to reside in my home.

This past week, some fourteen and one half years later, I invited my brother and sister to spend a full day with me – breakfast, lunch, and dinner – so we could finally deal with the two overflowing drawers, three large heavy totes, and the two-drawer file cabinet that contained the rest of their effects, multiple scrapbooks with multiple pictures, and almost sixty-six years of marital history.

(I stand corrected about the meals. Actually the three of us ate so much for breakfast that we elected to skip lunch and have an early dinner.)

While we definitely had a feeling of accomplishment at the end of the day, an emotional and physical adventure was had by all.

We tried to sort out and keep anything clearly historical in case one of the grandchildren or great-grandchildren should want to do a genealogy or write a book someday. Or just know from whence they came.

Then we dismantled some of the scrapbooks, each of us claiming the pictures that pertained to our own families. But how do you tear apart volume after volume that your mother had so artistically and painstakingly put together? You might as well tear out your heart.

On the other hand, what good are the scrapbooks if they are stored in my basement? And why would we ask our children to make these kinds of decisions? They already had received many mementos when Mom and Dad died.

So how do you throw away piles of old pictures? Even if you don’t know the names of the people in them? Even if your children will most certainly not know the names? These were real people. They don’t deserve to be tossed away. But as the oldest person left in our family, if I don’t know who or what the pictures are, it seemed useless to keep them.

How do you toss the many beautiful anniversary and birthday cards, invariably signed “Love,” from Paul to Bertha and Bertha to Paul? We ended up tearing off the beautiful fronts and sending them to St. Jude’s Card Project for use in making new cards.

How do you discard letters from friends who clearly loved your parents a great deal, even if your parents and their friends are gone?

It was a difficult day.

How did we do it?

With pain in our guts and holes in our hearts.

Poem for My Flat Chest

In keeping with my recent posts on whether or not to reconstruct/replace one's breasts after a mastectomy, I offer one of my poems:

Double Amputee

I have looked this way
before–
flat-chested, pencil-thin

when I was ten

Strange it is to seem
a sexless child
again

(Too bad about
the graying hair
and slightly sagging chin)

(Excerpted from Fine Black LIines (c) 1993, 2003 Lois Tschetter Hjelmstad)

Sexualization of the Pink Ribbon

This week I read a cogent post on NancysPoint dealing with how the pink ribbon has been commercialized and is now being sexualized as well. (She has some great pictures.)

As a survivor of breast cancer, I have lived without breasts or reconstruction for twenty-two years, It's almost to the place where I see breasts on others and feel puzzled. What are those funny-looking things? Why are there mounds of fat tissue on the fronts of women? Why are they placed at so many different levels?   

And then I wonder why, in this current societal climate, is it mandatory that we see almost the entirety of the  funny-looking things? It's almost impossible to buy clothes that aren't scooped out deeply. I see old women with crepey upper chests that should be in turtlenecks.

We don't proudly display the rolls of fat around our sides. Wait, I'll take that back. I've seen plenty of rolls. And muffin-tops. 

But to use sexy poses of breasts to commercialize the pink ribbon? Is it more important to save "boobies" or to save lives? I loved my breasts, but I'd rather be alive than to have saved them.

Do check out Nancy. And also go to http://www.xojane.com/issues/what-next-in-the-name-of-breast-cancer-awareness also. This post may curl your hair a bit, but it will also enlighten you. And xojane says, "…a lot of “awareness” campaigns make it sound like the great tragedy here is not that people are dying, but that funbags go away." What a great quote! And what a crock.

 

Married in September (8)

Well, today is the 64th anniversary of the day we returned to Denver after our honeymoon in Grand Lake Lodge near Grand Lake, Colorado.

It was the fourth morning of our honeymoon (which had been beyond wonderful). And we had lodging in the rustic cabin, wood fires, three delicious gourmet meals a day (all for $16 a day, $48 total). And the weather had been fantastic. And…

However, the fourth morning, it was rainy and cold. All the excitement of the wedding was fading. I had worn each of the outfits in my trousseau. While I had looked quite fetching in each, they were now old hat. Actually, there were no hats at all.  

It was time to go back to Denver and begin the path we would share.

I think I say it fairly succinctly in This Path We Share:

The fourth day–a gray, foggy morning–we returned home to the chicken ranch and the little white clapboard house. The morning after our wedding Les' mother and his two youngest brothers had hurried back to North Dakota for the start of high school.

Les was lonesome for his family. I had rarely been away from mine. While I had thought the old farmhouse to be quite charming the several times I had visited, now it seemed cold, drafty–and empty. The realities of our life together began to set in.

Les was hungry. I didn't know how to cook.

 

(Excerpted from This Path We Share, (c) 1993, 2003, Lois Tschetter Hjelmstad)

 

And, of course, the special offier, through September 30 only, still stands.

We are offering copies of This Path We Share for just $10 (regular price $18.95) plus FREE shipping. This book makes a wonderful present for newly marrieds, harrieds, and old-timers like us. Limit 3 to a customer, please.

Go to the bottom of the page on  This Path We Share and click on "Order Direct Add to Cart." You can order as a guest if you don't have a Paypal account. If you want to send a check or have questions, call me at 303.781.8974. 

We offer a money-back guarantee. If you hate the book, I'll feel terrible, of course, but send it back and we will (sort of happily) refund the $10.

What can you lose? Do it now. I'll even personalize the book for you.

If you aren't interested, please keep following my blog, anyway! I love you all.