Gift with Purchase

And the adventure begins…. My husband and I began a new adventure yesterday. We are now “village people.” Ever since 1991 when we first moved to Zionsville, Indiana, we have wanted to live in one of the town’s quaint historic homes and yesterday, for better or worse, that dream came true.

Our little house began it’s story in 1865 with the Higgins family. I can’t wait to take time to dive into the history preserved in the thick binder left for us by the previous owner. But for now, I will spend my time unloading boxes and saying hello and good-bye to the resident who thought he owned the house and perhaps he did. He keeps me awake this second night in our new house thumping on the prison gate of his cage that is propped on the roof above me. Lured there by the finest of delicacies — a Little Debbie Swiss Brownie.

We said hello today while I stood in our new dining room when suddenly a decorative metal round piece popped off the wall and crashed on the floor. I now have learned this was a cap to the flue of the chimney once probably used by the Higgen’s family as they cooked on their wood- burning stove.

In the picture you can see the faint outline of the masked face that stuck his head out of that hole to greet me. That masked- bandit will be moving out of the village this morning. I hope he enjoyed his brownie before moving on.

When you buy a house built in 1865, you expect many obstacles along with adventures, but I didn’t expect this “gift with purchase” that we will be returning to Mother Nature. Hello friend and good- bye. …. and yes, I am so hoping you are a “him” and not a “her.”

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F

To all my fellow Parkies out there. This is for you! If you do not know what a Parky is then you are missing out on some of the greatest people I know.
My fellow friends with Parkinson’s Disease, I had my 4 hour cognitive ability test yesterday as one of the measures to determine if I’m a candidate for DBS surgery, and I would like a redo! I would demand a redo, but I know it would be futile.

At one point in the 4 hour process that will determine my fate, I was given one minute to come up with as many words as I could think of that start with the letter L. No problem. Those L words rolled off my tongue with ease. Then I was asked to name as many C words as possible- piece of “cake.”
Then she said name as many F words as possible and for about 10 of those precious 60 seconds the mother of all F words was stuck in my mind and would not get out of the way of all the other more innocent F words that wanted their turn. I stumbled and stammered to pull those pleasant F words out from behind the big one. But like a bully, it stood its ground in my mind and blocked my other F “friends.” I thought about just saying the big one to release the others behind it, but then I
would have to admit to the evaluator the fact that word existed in my mind. So for the remaining 50 seconds, I fought off the “word that shall not be named” and held up my honor, but I’m sure lowered my score.

So neuropsychologists everywhere, take note, please pick another letter besides F during your cognitive ability tests. If you use F, your data will be skewed because most of us do not want to admit that the F word exists in our minds or has ever been spoken out loud when only 60 seconds determines our fate. There are 25 other letters from which to choose, and I get F, gosh darn it!

Red Shoes

(This is a continuation of the post from 6/3/17 titled Meet Lorisa.)

They are Lorisa’s favorite– her red high top tennis shoes. You see them somewhere on almost every page of the book. When they are on her feet — always untied.
There is a the back story about red shoes. Lori’s oldest boy played little league baseball like many boys do when they are seven and eight years old, but you will not hear of his name in the MLB because it was soon discovered that his gift was numbers and baseball stats. He is a successful financial consultant today. Oh, but he did have a pair of coveted red baseball shoes that he passed down to my oldest boy two years younger. My oldest wore the flashy red shoes for one year of little league. He soon realized that baseball was not for him the day the coach had to yell out to him in the outfield “take the glove off your head!” Today he volunteers his attention and time to young kids through the Big Brother program who are also at times are being told “to take the glove off your head.”

Next, the red shoes were handed down to my middle child. They were actually a size too big and flopped on his feet the first year he wore them. However, the minute he put them on and a teammate said “cool,” it was like those shoes were magic. He wore them for the next two years until the rubber cleats were completely worn down. You will not find his name in the MLB either. He traded his passion for baseball for a career as a sales analyst. Lori and I share cherished stories of a little boy who looked up to his older brother and older family friend so much and insisted on wearing red shoes a size too big for him. He was even nicknamed “Red Shoes” for a few years.

So as you read the pages of NOT YET and see a cute little girl proudly wearing her high top tennis shoes, you now know the precious memories that Lori and I share of “red shoes.”

Why are Lorisa’s shoes always untied …… because “she’s not quite there yet. She’ll get there. You bet!”

NOT YET….. coming soon!

By:  Lisa Cox & Lori Hockema

 

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Mom Wut?

Some things of your youth should not ever be resurrected. That’s what we discovered when I purchased a used French horn about a year ago.

One of the many non-motor ways Parkinson’s affects me is my voice volume. Common words from my husband are “what, I can’t hear you, you have to talk louder.” Remembering my glory days of fighting to remain in first chair position as a fine-tuned French horn player in high school, I thought bringing the beautiful sound of this instrument that adds depth to so many songs as an accompany instrument was the answer. I read that playing an instrument could strengthen muscles and help with voice volume, and it’s true. I forgot that there were a lot of um, pa, pa’s played by the French horn in most songs as the flutes had the main melodies. Oh, but there was Tchaikovsky. I envisioned playing Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture with the same precision as when I did in high school. In this piece, the French horn finally gets its glorious moment taking center stage of that grand song commemorating Russia’s victory over France.

Mr. Eric Wainscott, beloved band director of my youth, I hope you get to see this video. From the moment in the 5th grade when you helped me select this instrument that would be part of my life, it has strengthened me. Mainly, from all of those years lugging it back and forth each day from school, as I enviously watched my flute playing friends tuck their instruments under their arms and skip home. But I also learned from this instrument that most of life is spent as accompaniment — in the background. The world doesn’t revolve around me as usually it didn’t in songs for the French horn — except for in the Overture of 1812.
Just like Russia battled France as portrayed in Tchaikovsky’s song, I will battle Parkinson’s. — it just may not be with playing the French horn.

My greatest victory is my three boys plus husband who lovingly endured my attempts at bringing back to life a time of my past history.

I love this video made by two of my three boys. The laughter it brings me, may not do much for my voice volume, but it strengthens my soul.

So good-bye French horn. Thank you for the life lessons and memories.

A Story I’ve Always Wanted to Share

Believe!

It was a walk I will always remember. My grandmother had just died and I was distraught about her death and my failure to be a witness to her. My grandma who I had never known to go to church and never speak openly of faith, died at age 91. It had always puzzled me, my dad’s side of the family. There could not be more loving, giving, caring people. Growing up I always wanted to ask my grandma about Jesus, but I never could find the courage. The only evidence I ever saw of a faith was a cheap plastic framed picture of Jesus that hung on my grandma’s wall in her small bedroom. I hadn’t been in that room for many years.

The last time I saw my grandma was in a hospital room. She was battling a blood clot in her lung and had an oxygen tube in her nose. At one moment she was with us. Then she would drift off for a minute and wake to say something a bit delusional that indicated for me that I only had one last chance to ask my grandma about Jesus. Did she love Jesus? She had just looked at my aunt and I and expressed her love for us all, so I thought this is my moment. I asked the question. “Grandma do you know Jesus as your Lord and Savior?” She lifted her head and answered, “Jesus, is he the one who stole my purse?” My aunt looked at me mortified with an expression that said “what are you doing?” I left that hospital room humiliated and embarrassed. She died that night.

The next day God and I battled on a long walk. I remember the sky being particularly clear and beautiful, and I looked up and had a conversation with him in my mind. “I can’t do this. I am a shy person. It’s just who I am. I have prayed for her for years. You let me down. Now I will never know. Do not ask me to share my faith with anyone ever again!” Those were some of my rantings and accusations I threw at God on that walk. What I heard in return was “go into her room.” At the time I didn’t have a profound understanding that God had just spoken to me. Now that I look back, I know it was God because– I argued with him. “Oh no, a cheaply framed picture of Jesus on a bedroom wall does not mean you have given your life to Jesus.” “Go into her room” is what I heard. Would that picture hanging on her wall give me peace? I thought not!

A few days later after her funeral, I sat among a gathering of family and friends in my grandma’s living room. I thought maybe I would find comfort in looking at that picture on her wall, but I really doubted it. I was nervous when I asked if it would be ok to go in her room. I didn’t know why.

As I opened the door to her bedroom, my heart was pounding and I looked to the wall in front of me where I remember the picture being. My hope plummeted as I saw a mirror hanging where that picture had been. “See, it’s not even there,” I threw at God in my mind with contempt.

When I spun around to go back out the door, I froze. There it was, the picture I remembered. It was surrounded by three more pictures of Jesus in different settings. There were several crosses on the wall, bible verses stuck in the door frame, an angel pin I had once given her, dried palm leaves that her other grandchildren had brought her after Palm Sunday services, and statues of Jesus. I had to take a second look to make sure that it was not a tribute to Elvis. In that fleeting moment while I stood frozen, I know this sounds crazy, but I felt a flutter, and I know an angel stood behind me whispering in my ear, “Your grandma is fine. This is for you. Your grandma is fine.”

The moment was over when my dad barged in the room. I pointed at the wall and asked, “Why didn’t I know this?” He just laughed and said, “Oh, your grandma always loved Jesus.” I just smiled and took that picture and walked out of the room.

I have always wanted to tell this story even though it makes me sound crazy.
I may never have that kind of experience again, but it had a profound effect on my faith. God has such a sense of humor. I just know that he and my grandma are laughing and loving the moment when she told me that Jesus stole her purse! Believe!

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And We Smile On

I was with a friend yesterday. I picked her up and we went together to buy a gift for wedding that we are both attending. We stood at the registry of a local store for about 15 minutes deciding what to buy. Then it took about 20 minutes for the cashier to figure out how to split our bill, order, and ship the item in between waiting on other customers. It is amazing how you can connect with someone through a song.

I only know his name because of his name tag. David started singing to the radio playing in the background Versace on the Floor by Bruno Mars while he waited on us. I have a funny story about that song. You can read it in an earlier blog post of mine called “Sachie on the Floor!” I told him that story, and we shared a laugh. He then proceeded to tell me that he is a writer, too. One thing led to another, and then My friend was telling him about First Punch, the song by Heather Richardson that I cowrote. I thought he would be bored with it, but I played a little of it.  It is far from being Versace on the Floor. But when this young, African American kid got tears in his eyes and said he needed to hear that because of the hard time he is going through right now in his life, I thought, “yes, this is why we wrote it.”

This kid and I have nothing in common, but I got a glimpse of his pain and his struggle through a few seconds of a shared song. I may never see David again, but I will never forget this honest moment when the wall of “put on a smile” came down for just a moment to remind me– we all are struggling with something behind our smiles.

Be kind always because there is pain behind our smiles — and we smile on.

First Punch – Single by Heather Richardson https://itun.es/us/8suEib

Oops, I Did It Again

The first time was right before I was first married 30 years ago. I remember the situation like it happened yesterday. Oh yes, that’s because it did happen again yesterday and countless times in between the first and most recent incident.

Every person has strengths and weaknesses. If my family was to fill their stomachs with my strengths, they would starve because cooking would be listed on the weakness side. My husband has said it is an easy problem that I could solve with one simple gadget that has been around for decades — a timer! I say it’s more complicated than that.

The Wall Hanging: The first time cooking baffled me was before I was married and living in Dallas, Texas where I met my husband. We were gathering with friends to celebrate Thanksgiving that year. I was 24 at the time, old enough to read directions, but the interpretation of what is firm I still protest can be debated. I was assigned the beloved of all delicacies, the pecan pie, and given a trusted recipe on a 3 x 5 where I still recall the last line saying
“cook until firm.”
Firm? Firm? I checked that pie for over an hour and my interpretation of firm was never met, so I finally took it out of the oven. When we attempted to cut it that afternoon among gathered friends, it was definitely firm. After hanging it on the wall as a decoration for awhile, we took that “firm” undigestible pie and broke it in two pieces with a hammer. My reputation had begun.

Rice Casserole: This one happened right after we were married. A recipe should not assume that one would know to cook the rice before it was added to the ingredients and baked. But to this day my husband still says it was a no brainer and step that should not have been overlooked as he recalls almost breaking a tooth crunching through the uncooked rice in that casserole.

The Pizza
:
Who can mess up frozen pizza? I think it was my mistake of leaving the card board under the frozen pizza in the oven, setting off the smoke alarm, and almost starting a fire that caused pizza companies all over the world to add that Mr. Obvious step to the packaging “remove cardboard before baking.”

The Cookies:

Oh, the countless times the hint of the aroma of freshly baked warm cookies would start to make our mouths water. This tease of that beginning smell so many times turned to the smell of death– the death of another batch. It happened again yesterday. They were even frozen cookies, but my husband was so looking forward to these speciality lemon cookies for which I spent too much money. Eighteen cookies were in the bag. The first 6 I burned the week before, but I didn’t panic because I had 12 left. Then compassion overtook me and I gave six more to a friend who just had surgery. That leads to yesterday and the pressure was on. As I put the last 6 in the oven, I could hear my husband’s words echo in my mind, “timer, timer, timer.” Nah, I’ve got this. At first I was committed to those cookies, but I became restless. The piano called my name. the laundry called my name. My phone called my name. In the middle of that multi-tasking, the smell of death entered my nostrils and the panic set in, and attempt to cover up the crime scene began. My husband was on a conference call upstairs, so I didn’t have much time to hide the evidence. I turned off the oven, threw the cookies away, sprayed air freshener, and jumped in my car to go take back the six cookies I had given away. To my disappointment, my friend did not answer phone. Rats! Now I had to go from cover-up to grovel and redeem. There is a place in my small town called “My Sugar Pie.” I had found my peace offering– a cherry pie. When I walked in the house to present my pie perfectly “firm” that I didn’t cook, my husband stood waiting for me with a huge smile on his face. “You did it again,” he said. However, through his teasing, his hug told me everything.
He loves my in spite of my cooking ability.

I don’t know why I refuse to use a timer. Stubbornness. Laziness. My husband thinks there is a deep seeded reason to my refusal to use a timer. He has tried many interventions. I have no excuse, but I’m not going to change. I think I’ll go out and buy a package of Oreos. It’s hard to mess up opening a package of Oreos. So far, I am an expert with a pack of Oreos!

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