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Last night the phone rang late ~ too late. I sensed something was wrong. I didn’t answer it right away, rather let the caller leave a message. After all, I was probably being melodramatic. About ten minutes later however, I couldn’t let it rest and anxiously checked the phone messages. David, my brother, with urgency in his voice told me to call back immediately, the it was imperative that I return the call. I found out that Dad had an abdominal aneurism rupture. He was rushed to the hospital and was in surgery as David and I spoke. David’s parting words were “this does not look good.” I called the kids then I began praying. Prayer is a huge part of my life, not just in emergencies, but every day. When things like this happen however, there is an added fervency, one prays with intense kavannah. Around 1:30am I got the call that Dad had done well in surgery and had responded excellently to the skilled surgeons and other medical personnel as they repaired five ruptures. He is now in ICU at Jewish Hospital in Louisville, KY, and the prognosis looks good. But last night we didn’t know what the outcome would be. Today I find myself paying attention more, to life, to people, to voices, to family. Everyday we walk this earth is a gift. My dad has been given the gift of more days and we’ve been given the gift of more time with Dad. I love you Dad. I am beyond extremely grateful that Dad pulled through emergency surgery to repair a ruptured abdominal aneurism.

Dad found this desk in some odd place (junk yard ?).  It was pretty beat up with missing drawers and doors and knobs, etc. Other than the fact that the thing was falling apart, Dad saw its utilitarian value and began work crafting facings and hand-hewn handles for the drawers, a slanted lift-up top to sit on the desk (it is a draftsman desk after all), etc.  He sanded and varnished it until he was satisfied that it wouldn’t look to atrocious sitting somewhere in our home (hidden from view in some back room corner.)  We drove into town and found a swivel-seat bar chair (Sears ?), and found an old chair pad at a yard sale that almost fit the seat. . . almost. . . good enough! Once completed, Dad used this desk for years.

Some years ago I noticed that the desk was pushed aside and had become more of a catch-all than a desk-in-use.  I commented to Dad that when the day came, I would be interested in getting the desk. His ears pricked up, and then he began to tell me how cumbersome it was, not as useful as he had hoped, took up a lot of space, was ugly, etc. Did I still want it?  Being the romantic that I am, YES, I still wanted it!  In no time flat, Dad moved the desk to my apartment. (In retrospect, Dad acted a little too quickly on that cue!) I was thrilled for all of thirty minutes!  It became a catch-all for me, too. And just like Dad had warned, it became a cumbersome, bothersome, hideous piece of furniture that took up valuable space in small apartments.  And as often as we moved, carting the desk from place to place was proving to be a pain in the neck.  I was bummed, but what could I do? The only reason I kept the thing was because my son expressed interest in it “when the day comes.” With Dad’s words in my head, I began issuing warnings to Tim.  Just like me, my romantic son still wants it. . . “when the day comes.”  (Maria, don’t feel obligated to take the thing into your home.  Or, if you do, it fits nicely in a basement.)

But then I read about some interesting research confirming the importance of standing and walking upright on our feet and moving a lot through the day. And just as importantly, sitting for long periods of time is truly bad for our health. Furthermore, once the damage to our sitting-for-long-periods-of-time-day-after-day bodies is done, it cannot be undone! In other words, the lifestyle of this techie world is bad for our health.

I got to thinking about the desk and how I might use it to improve my health (I am a very sedentary person–reader, writer, dreamer, ponderer–ask my kids.  Heck! Ask Richard!).  I removed the slanted “draftsman” top, bought a 2′ x 4′ x 2″ piece of walnut instead, and placed it on top of the desk to create an even surface for my laptop and other “desk-type” items.  I found a tiny book shelf that fit on top, and also discovered a bar underneath the desk in the leg-room area that was and is a foot rest when sitting on a high chair.  I can stand, lean against the swivel bar-chair, sit, walk away from the desk when I need to move, and more.

While working at a rehab center as an assistant (rehab tech) to a physical therapist, I learned many simple exercises that are performed while standing. They are moves (leg lifts, marching in place, raising up on toes or rocking back on heals, etc.) that work to keep joints flexible, build muscle strength for maintaining balance, burn calories, and more. Best of all, they are all easy to do while reading, writing, dreaming, pondering, etc.  So, now I have my “healthy” work space where I can do all the “sedentary” activities that I am quite good at, while at the same time standing and doing simple exercises that add movement and health to my life.  Thanks, Dad, for this wonderful, beautiful, utilitarian monstrosity of a desk! 🙂

I am truly grateful for Dad’s old draftsman desk that was found in someone’s barn or junk pile or something like that!

 

This weekend is my parents’ annual camping trip with my kids!  I wanted so much to join them but was unable to make it.  Thinking about the whole kit-n-kaboodle of them camping together in some idyllic spot brought back so many memories of my family camping trips, and other family outings, too.  More than the clothes, toys, houses, cars, etc., it is those things we do together–sitting together around the campfire or at the dinner table, hiking through the woods or strolling through the neighborhood to admire folks’ gardens and landscaping, telling ghost stories in the tent late at night or reading bedtime stories together when tucked safely in bed for the night.  These are the things that create memories.  This is the glue that seals our devotion to each other. The “remember whens” of life add the color, the warmth, the texture to our life’s pallette.  Family outings; i remember them with affectionate warmth.  And, not to forget, Happy Father’s Day to all the dad’s out there, especially my dad and my son–both Dads extraordinaire!  I am grateful for family outings. . . and for dads everywhere!

What can one say about parents?  Through the years my parents have been kind and generous.  They have also been mean and “self-centered.”  They have been wise and understanding.  I remember some foolish times, and instances where they “just don’t understand,” too.  They have been fun and entertaining, AND boring and “an embarrassment.”  Parents!  Through the years they have been sooooo many things to me and my siblings.  Through all the stages of our growth and development however, Mom and Dad were the constants in our lives.  Their love and stability carried my brothers and me through some rough times. No matter what was going on, Mom and Dad were always rooting for us, and their’s is the home we call our own.  Mom and Dad loved us unconditionally, regardless of how we felt about them. (Adolescence was the worst!  Thankfully we all survived.) Now that I have reached the status of “senior citizen” by some folks’ definition (a title I am glad to use when it means a discount on tickets or whatever) and have raised my own children, Mom, Dad and I have grown to the point of a special friendship and bond that only parents and children can have. . .if they are lucky.  I consider myself one of the lucky ones!  G-d willing, Mom and Dad will celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary in November.  I am immensely grateful for my parents.

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