Posts Tagged ‘death’

Two Sad Days

“Death is a challenge. It tells us not to waste time… It tells us to tell each other right now that we love each other.’ — Leo Buscaglia

My friend, writing colleague and mentor Debra, living life to the fullest while she lay in her hospital bed shortly before her death. I love her dearly and will miss her forever.

Life Goes On

Today is the 17th anniversary of 9-11 in which 2,996 people died. Yesterday I learned of the too-young death of a writer colleague who was one of the most giving and kind people to become a part of my life.

Life is simply not fair. But I know my friend would be disappointed in  me if I let her death drag me down. And I suspect that this is the same for everyone who ever lost a loved one – be it 17 years ago, or just yesterday.

I was city editor at the Standard-Examiner on 9-11, and helped put out the sad news on that fateful day.

It is what I know I want from my friends and family when my times comes. Celebrate my life, not my death.

None of us truly know when our time will be up on this earth. Once I accepted this, I began to appreciate just how precious every moment is. My goal is to try and live every moment to the fullest. While I know every moment can’t be productive and perfect, I know I am still blessed to have had it – and thankful to have had it, too.

Bean Pat: It’s time to smile now, and you can do this by reading Emily Dickinson’s Refrigerator

https://tricksterchase.com/2018/09/10/emily-dickinsons-refrigerator/?wref=pil And may my soul always be blessed by laughter, especially when I laugh at myself.

Pat Bean is a Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder. Her book, Travels with Maggie, is now up on Amazon at http://tinyurl.com/y8z7553y  Currently, she is writing a book, tentatively titled Bird Droppings, which is about her late-bloomer birding adventures. You can contact her at patbean@msn.com

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The Pain of Living

            “Find a place inside where there is joy, and the joy will burn out the pain.” – Joseph Campbell

Life is full of rainbows, and life is full of storms. The first without the second wouldn't be as sweet. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Life is full of rainbows, and life is full of storms. The first without the second wouldn’t be as sweet. — Photo by Pat Bean

You Can’t Escape 

            I’ve been reading books for a female memoir writing contest. Several of them deal with surviving the pain of losing loved ones – and most of these books left me feeling a bit cynical. Everyone who lives to a ripe age loses loved ones. It’s part of life’s journey.

If we're lucky we get to smell the flowers along the way. -- Photo by Pat Bean

If we’re lucky we get to smell the flowers along the way. — Photo by Pat Bean

Sure it hurts. I’m still hurting from the loss of my mother, and I can only imagine the pain I will have to live through if one of my children dies before I do. That’s not the order in which life is supposed to be lived.

But why, I asked myself, did some of these authors act like their suffering was the only loss in the world? Get over it, I wanted to tell them.

But one of the memoirs involving death got to me. It was written by a woman whose activities included research involving hospice patients nearing death. She spent time with these people, recording their feelings and coming to care for them.

The researcher became especially close to one woman on the verge of death. This was a woman who had lived a hard street life, and admitted stealing, lying and prostituting herself to get the drugs she craved. “I cared for nobody else but myself,” she related.

And occasionally simply have time to sit and let the world go by. -- Photo by Pat Bean

And occasionally simply have time to sit and let the world go by. — Photo by Pat Bean

Before this woman died, the researcher herself found herself with cancer, and facing possible death.  The news upset the former drug addict so much that she bullied her hospice attendants into transporting her in a wheelchair to the researcher’s side in a hospital.

When the researcher apologized for causing the dying woman pain, the woman thanked her instead.

“For the first time, I know what it feels like to care about someone besides myself. It makes me feel alive in a way that I never did before,” she told the researcher

These words caused tears to flow from my eyes. I, too, in a moment of sorrow had once been grateful for pain. While it was a love that was rejected that had given me the pain, it was this same pain that let me know I still had the capacity to love.

In my book, that was treasured knowledge.

Bean’s Pat: Grateful for one more day http://tinyurl.com/kcnd7fa And hopeful for many more

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“It’s so curious: one can resist tears and behave very well in the hardest hours of grief. But then someone makes you a friendly sign behind a window, or one notices that a flower that was in bud only yesterday has suddenly blossomed … and everything collapses.” – Collette

Morning sunrise at about 6:40 a.m. here at Lake Walcott State Park. — Photo by Pat Bean

In the Flicker of an Image

I never tire of waking up to a sunrise here at Lake Walcott. Each one is different, but all are usually awesome.

Flags at half-mast in front of the Lake Walcott State Park visitor center. — Photo by Pat Bean

This one, since my canine traveling companion, Pepper, let me sleep in an extra hour, was taken at about 6:40 a.m. The days are slowly getting shorter here now. This would have been too late to catch even a glimmer of sunrise when I first arrived.

And I noticed last night that it was now getting dark before 10 p.m. Lake Walcott is far enough north from southern Texas, where I grew up, that there’s a significant difference in how long summer days can be. That was emphasized when I was on the phone the other evening with my son. He noted that it was dark outside at 8 p.m. while there was still two hours of daylight left here.

It’s also finally gotten hot here at the park, not by Texas standards perhaps, but enough that I take Pepper for long walks only in the early mornings and late evenings. On this morning’s walk, I saw that the flags at the park’s visitor center were at half-mast.

It took me a moment before I realized that this was probably done to honor those whose lives were so senselessly lost in Aurora, Colorado. Because I don’t have a TV, that tragedy is only brought to my attention when I read the news on my computer.

A single sunflower reminded me that life goes on. It’s just that after the Aurora tragedy, it will never be the same again for those who lost loved ones or those who will carry scars of that day. — Photo by Pat Bean

Suddenly all the joy of my morning evaporated.

Like the rest of the caring, honorable, law-abiding people in this world, my heart goes out to those who lost loved ones, and to those whose lives will never be the same again.

I know life will go on, just as the sunflowers I left dying when I left Lake Walcott last fall, are just now beginning to bloom again. My hope, however, is that one day we will live in a kinder, more caring, gentler world where such acts would never even enter anyone’s mind.

History tells me that will never happen, but I, for one will never stop hoping. If Mother Nature can change her face day by day, then so can we.

Bean’s Pat: Goodnight Precious http://tinyurl.com/d6dfkr3 A kinder picture for all of us who grieve Aurora. The wondering wanderer’s blog pick of the day.

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“What can you ever really know of other people’s souls – of their temptations, their opportunities, their struggles? One soul in the whole creation you do know: and it is the only one whose fate is placed in your hands.” – C.S. Lewis

Journeys: Remembering My Youngest Brother

This piece of drawer sculpture I discovered at the St. Louis Museum of Art fascinated me. I think we humans are like these drawers, each different and each filled with different aspirations, dreams, prejudices, needs and likes and dislikes. -- Photo by Pat Bean,

Richard, my youngest brother, was born when I was 12 years old. It was a difficult time for our family, which consisted of an angry mother, a jovial father who spent and gambled his paycheck away before he came home on Friday nights, the newborn infant, six and seven-year-old brothers, and me.

We three oldest siblings had learned how to survive. We stayed out of the way and we were each straight A students. I married at 16 to escape, and my two oldest brothers became self-supporting at very young ages.

Richard, meanwhile, brought home a lot of Fs and barely got through school. He was a pretty boy with blond curls who never grew as tall as my 5-foot-five-inch frame.

Live oak trees toggle my imagination. Their trunks and limbs lean and curve all over the place, yet each tree, in its own special way, is perfect. -- Photo by Pat Bean

He always had to look up to me, and he did it in more than a physical way. As a youth, he spent summers with my family, fitting in quite nicely with my own children who were just a few years younger than him.

After high school, Richard joined the Air Force, but didn’t complete his years of committed duty. I don’t know the circumstances, but at some point I recognized that Richard was gay, and that he was an alcoholic. It wasn’t a good time to be gay, and the alcoholism made him foolish and put him in places where he often got beat up.

I picked him up from a hospital a couple of times, and once from jail, where he had been taken for public intoxication. He had been beaten up that time, too. Yet Richard was always pleasant and grateful to everyone who came his way.

He would often disappear, sometimes for a year at a time , before turning back up on my mother’s doorstep. By this time our father had died, and my mother was less angry, although she never failed to give Richard a good tongue-lashing for his failings. .

My brother never defended himself, or retaliated. I, a feisty child from birth, wondered how he stood it. Those tongue lashings had been the reason I had left home at such a young age.

After one final disappearance, Richard moved in with Mother, who at this point was living in a senior-citizen complex. The two of them actually lived a peaceful life for a couple of years, during which Richard kept a job at a fast-food place for longer than he had kept any job, and dutifully paid his portion of the rent.

No one, not even my mother, knew at this point that her son and my brother had contracted AIDS. Richard would never even admit to himself, I think, that he wasn’t heterosexual like the rest of us.

I didn’t find out that my brother had this devastating disease — which was before medical advances took AIDS from being a death-degree sentence — until he lay dying in a hospital. I wasn’t even in time to see him one last time. He was only 35 when he died.

So why, I was asked, do I believe  he was the best of us four siblings?

It’s simple. I never heard him say a single bad thing against anyone. And I never heard him make a single judgment against anyone. I know no other person of which I can say the same.

Bean’s Pat: The Laughing Housewife: I Hope Bella Remembered to Shave. http://tinyurl.com/89oaqhm I have never watched a “Twilight” TV episode or movie, but this blog had me laughing so loudly that I got a disdainful shushing look from my canine traveling companion, Maggie

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 “Birth and death; we all move between these two unknowns.” Bryant H. McGill


Life goes on in Florida's Brevard Zoo for these two magnificent eagles, who are injured and could not survive in the wild. Have they made peace with their limited environment? Hopefully, because life goes on one way or another. -- Photo by Pat Bean


Travels With Maggie


As leaves of this Japanese pear tree fall, a flowering bud is eager to take its place. -- Photo by Pat Bean

I’ve reached an age when acquaintances and dear friends are dying. This past year I lost two who were especially dear to me. One had adopted me into her family for holidays when mine were far away. She made it all the way to 99 before she finally gave up her will to live. Her funeral, per her wishes, was a celebration.

Another dear friend, an irreverent writing colleague who was the life of any party and who was always making me pee from laughing so hard, also left this world. She was a year younger than me, and this death was much harder to bear.

I’m not a religious person, so I get no comfort from well-meaning comments that suggest she’s in a better place now.

It’s not that I don’t believe in this better place, I do. It’s just that I believe this better place is here and now. It’s all we have. It’s up to each of us to make it the best it can be.

Life goes on through grief. It goes on when something or someone kicks us to the ground. It goes on if we can’t afford all our wants. It simply goes on.

This is a picture that speaks louder than a thousand words, so I won't say them. -- Photo by Pat Bean


These thoughts all roared through my brain this morning as I walked Maggie. The flowering Japanese pear tree in my son’s yard first stirred up the cacophony in my brain. As winter teases and taunts and hides in Texas’ Gulf Coast, as it’s doing today when the air conditioner in my RV is running, this small tree comes to life.

For each leaf that falls, it sends out a bud that will bloom this winter. In the background, between the pear tree’s naked limbs, is another tree, one that’s providing onlookers a rustling, reality video of brilliant color.

I find meaning and comfort in Mother Nature. Her message to me is one of reincarnation, not that I expect to come back to live another life, but that a tiny drop of who I am will become a permanent part of this planet.


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My friend, Kim, with her beautiful GG -- Photo by Pat Bean

“You can shed tears that she is gone, or you can smile because she has lived. You can close your eyes and pray that she’ll come back, or you open your eyes and see all she’s left.

Your heart can be empty because you can’t see her, or you can be full of the love you shared. You can turn your back on tomorrow and live yesterday, or you can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday…

You can cry and close your mind, be empty and turn your back. Or you can do what she’d want: Smile, open your eyes, love and go on.”

 — David Harkins.


*Travels With Maggie

My friend Kim, who was to meet me in Zion National Park yesterday, canceled because her 99-year-old grandmother, whom I also loved and called GG for Great-Grandmother, was on her death-bed. GG had adopted me into her family when I lived in Utah because my own family all lived elsewhere, mostly 1,500 miles or more away in Texas.

The pending death wasn’t an unexpected turn of events, but one that GG herself had been wishing for in recent months because her life had dwindled to helplessness. She had told me as much herself when I had hugged her frail tiny body for the final time last September.

I was saddened by GG’s pending death, but also relived that this day had finally arrived. And knowing that GG was surrounded by her own loving family, and that I was not needed, I didn’t change my plans to stay in Zion for the coming week.

But as if echoing the sadness in my heart, weather in Zion this day was a cold-hearted one. It was only 27 degrees when I awoke, and the cold penetrated a sprained shoulder I had been nursing now for two months.

Indian paintbrush doesn't let a rocky habitat hinder its opportunity at life. -- Photo by Pat Bean

My dog, Maggie, meanwhile, who normally sleeps in until almost 10 a.m. woke at 7:30 and demanded a walk. Of course I bundled up and she got it.

Back at the RV, Maggie immediately snuggled back in on our over-the-cab bed and soon was snoozing. I fixed myself my morning coffee and sat in front of the computer to read the news online.

It wasn’t good.

Tornadoes and twisters, including some striking very close to my youngest daughter in southern Arkansas, had left over 350 dead behind.

Life is so fragile. And we never know what curve ball it’s going to throw at us. All we can do is live each day to its fullest and be thankful we can.

After checking in with my youngest daughter and learning all was fine there, and although it was with a sad heart for GG , and for those who had lost their lives in the tornadoes, and my daily sadness for the loss of lives in the wars our country is fighting, I didn’t forget to appreciate and be awed by my colorful and amazing surroundings here in Zion National Park. .

Not doing so, with all the suffering going on in the world, would have been a sacrilege.

*Day 12 of the journey, April 30, 2011

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