Category Archives: Life in General

Miscellaneous observtions on Life

Thanksgiving Memories

 

Here we were – a group of unsophisticated teenagers – planning to go to Florida during our Thanksgiving break.   It didn’t matter to us that it was 17 hours & 36 minutes or 1,120.9 miles from NJ via I-95 S.  We had a pretty good car, there were four of us and what could go wrong?

Nothing went wrong on the way down with all our singing and happiness.   Our funds allowed us only a couple of overnight hotel days, enough for gas/tolls and we were confident.  We had a great time until it was time to go home to be there for Thanksgiving.   We allowed a day to travel back with gas and food – but forgot about the tolls.  Money was diminishing quickly.

To make up for disappearing monies, we cut down on food and decided to drive at night instead of stopping to sleep.  I remember my turn taking the wheel and fighting to keep my eyes open.   We stopped at an open diner at about 1:00 am on Thanksgiving Eve.    Half asleep, we were approached by a handsome man in cowboy garb who introduced himself – he was about 7 years older than we were.   He said he spotted us ‘driving all over the road” while he was taking some ponies back to his pony farm.   He pointed to his truck which was indeed his name and his farm’s name.   He said he would keep an eye on us as we were approaching the state of North Carolina.   Thinking, he said he would be right back; when he returned, he said he called his wife, Barbara, and they would like us to have Thanksgiving with them in NC.  Being from a northern city, we were leery and alert that we did not know this man or his wife.   He insisted we follow him and with high suspicion, we followed him – it was 4 against 1 plus we knew we wouldn’t get home in time, had no money left for tolls and we were plumb tired.

When he pulled up in front of his beautiful farmhouse, and, yes, there was a sign outside proclaiming his name and “Pony Farm”, his wife, Barbara came out and welcomed us.   Still NJ leery, we were shown to our rooms (each had its own bathroom) and told what time dinner was ready. Dinner was at his father’s house not far from his own.    The dinner was perfection of Southern charm & cuisine.   Our host, Herb, still in his cowboy hat, played the guitar and entertained the group while we were finishing off our dinner of Barbara’s home-made peach ice cream.   This was Southern Hospitality.

The next day, they hugged us good-bye with good wishes, and a $20 bill was found in the visor as we drove away.

We kept in touch all these decades later and each Thanksgiving I send them flowers.   We were invited back when we married and had families.  They have  a cottage near their pool in their  backyard and many years later,  we and our kids spent some quality time with them and sometimes at our homes.   Although we were Catholic and they were Baptist, we attended their church and they ours — on the Sabbath.

Herb has passed away but Barbara and I keep in touch and sometimes visit.   I wrote on her Thanksgiving card this year and reminded her that our story of their caring and sharing Thanksgiving with us is repeated at every Thanksgiving meal.   Whoever hears it knows that not only did it affect the original four of us but is repeated to others .    Hopefully, sharing and caring will go forward as it does with our friends and family.

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?”   Matthew  25:31-40

Marie Coppola   November 2018

 

 

 

After Hurricane Florence

October was a heavy duty month in more ways than one.   Many of us had to leave our homes not knowing what condition it would be in when we returned.   Would we have to throw away all the food we bought in case the electricity went off?   Would there be water in the house or neighborhood?   Would there be looting going on?

We went to Georgia for 5 days and upon our return, we were blessed to have no flooding, no electricity loss and nothing missing.   Some debris here and there but not as bad as some friends and acquaintances who had heavy water and home damage.    Some folks had loss of a loved one that week and compounded with the loss of one’s home – it weighed heavily upon them.   My motto those weeks was “You never know what a friend, neighbor or stranger has to endure in their heart”.   I thought of that when someone tried to cut in front of me driving  or got impatient in the store line or was just downright grouchy.   Everyone got more patience and caring from me in return.    I try to bring it along now that things are somewhat more normal.   But it’s not for all of us.

Our church’s school had flooding which disrupted the regular schedules and locations.   Our many church ministries also were disrupted – some of which were difficult to relocate due to changing of the regular schedules and locations.

They say there is always ‘some good that comes out of something bad’ – sometimes it’s hard to look for it and sometimes it is just apparent.

Concentrating on what should we take and what should we leave including ourselves  – I didn’t listen to or miss all the election and political landscapes – it seems civility and good old manners were absent from our everyday routines; until Florence came into town.

Although stress is high from leaving your home, it was negated by the camaraderie and caring of others on the road, in restaurants and hotels.   We saw familiar faces , shared our experiences and learned from others of their experiences.

Back at home five days later we saw firsthand the good over the bad.   Many of our weekly-held ministries had to rearranged due to space and manpower.    The church communities in our area came to our rescue by offering their space and accommodations.    God is alive in North and South Carolina.   No church functions were cancelled, ministries continued and new friendships were formed.   Some of the ministries – held weekly – continued and didn’t miss even one – much to the relief of the participants involved.   The space-giving church staffs  treated us as members offering to help and/or just by sharing their spaces and hospitality.  The churches in our area do help one another – it doesn’t matter what denomination we or  they are – they are practicing the Commandment “Love Thy Neighbor”.    It was a welcome feeling through a bad situation and the feeling magnifies and goes forward.

One can only hope that good neighbors & situations continues not only here but in all of America.  It is said that our country comes together closer in times of distress.   Let’s pray that our country leaves behind the nastiness, fighting and disarray of our political system.  We need to love our neighbors as we do ourselves – we can do it even with distress, problems  or hurricanes .  Caring and loving  is all around us if we only seek it out.    And it multiplies.   And can change our culture.

 

 

Thank You DEM Randy Webster

Before Florence came along,  I had a bad impression of being part of a large, destructive hurricane.   I still do – they are invasive, unpredictable, scary, and bearers of death and destruction.   Staying in your home is comfortable unless the electricity goes out and the toilet won’t flush.   The food in the fridge starts to disfigure and you end up throwing away hundreds of dollars of  perishables.  Fear of flooding looms.   Hurricanes are not fun.  Especially if you feel it is imperative to evacuate and/or are told to do so.

There are many others evacuating – so when do you go and where do you go?    The state has rules and the best thing to do is follow them.  We did so – we went south and not inland for fear of rivers overflowing.   We ended up in a Georgia hotel which is located on Hospitality Avenue.   The rooms were very nice but our first impression was that of the hospitality.   The hotel members were compassionate, friendly and ready to help the situation any way they could.   They were a hard-working group – the hotel was filled to capacity with people from the Carolinas.

We were fortunate to be among neighbors, friends and others we knew.  Some of us played cards.  Others socialized.  Many were glued to their cell phones.   We all were aware of the TV giving out information over and over that we weren’t happy to hear.   After a few  days our  homes we left seemed more and more  fragile and in distress.   We would call neighbors who did not leave and try to find out details of our abandoned homes.   Did trees fall; is it flooding, are the highways clear, are the lights out?   Most of us did not sleep comfortably.

Finally, the evacuation was lifted.   Happiness filled for a short time until we realized we were going home but how, where, and best time to do so?   The actual reason for this account is what happened leaving Hospitality  and driving into the Unknown.   We stopped at the Welcome South Carolina center and picked up a SC 2018 Hurricane Guide.    Among helpful articles, it contained “important contacts”.  We used  3 of the phone numbers on the  6-hour drive home.  They were:  Current Road Conditions (1-888-877-9151); Re-entry (1-866-246-0133); Emergency Management (1-843-915-5150) as well as our local police department.  These phones are well-manned and most were picked up on the first ring!

We drove with added confidence that we could contact the well-qualified and compassionate persons at these numbers who answered our questions and had up-to-date info on highway safety and availability.    We cannot praise this program enough to alleviate the worry or fear of flooded areas or trouble spots or heavily-trafficked areas.

Our sincere and grateful appreciation to all the phone responders speedy access and answers to our questions of highway availability or any problems in our path.   We are grateful for such a program in our hurricane-possible state and especially to Randy Webster,  Director of the Horry County Emergency Management Department (EMD) .

In the publication Hurricane Guide, “Randy Webster wants to make sure you’re prepared in the event of a hurricane.”    Many hints such as what pet owners can do  in case disaster strikes.  A link to a site showing pet-friendly hotels is available on the EMD website.

Many, many thanks to him and the wonderful people in his well-run program for this valuable guide and resources.

Marie Coppola   September 2018

 

Are Hugs Important?

Multi-racial children hug eachother

 

I am a hugger.   Hugging, to me, is a comfort to hurting people and  a reaction to express understand & caring.  Some people are not huggers and have different opinions.  Contrary to the old wives’ tales’ from past generations who believed that responding quickly to crying by holding and/or  nursing will “spoil” a baby. Instead, babies who are held and comforted when they need it during the first six months of life tend to be more secure and confident as toddlers and older children.

I remember from psychology class that back when babies who did not have mothering had caregivers instead in hospitals or orphanges.  These caregivers  would go in to feed them,  bathe them and change their diapers, but they would do nothing else.   Later, I read that  the caregivers had been instructed not to look at or touch the babies more than was necessary, and they never spoke to them. All their physical needs were attended to scrupulously.   The environment was kept sterile; the babies were never ill.  However, about half of the babies had died at that point, at least two more died even after being rescued and brought into a more normal environment. There was no physiological cause for the babies’ deaths; they were all physically very healthy. Before each baby died, there was a period where they would stop their attempted ‘wording’, and just stop moving, never cry or change expression. Death would follow shortly. The babies who had “given up” before being rescued died in the same manner, even though they had been removed from the experimental conditions.The conclusion was that nurturing is actually a very vital need in humans.   Even in animals.

In the  Harlow experiments on rhesus monkeys, he separated infant monkeys from their mothers a few hours after birth, then arranged for the young animals to be “raised” by two kinds of surrogate monkey mother machines, both equipped to dispense milk. One mother was made out of bare wire mesh. The other was a wire mother covered with soft terry cloth. Separated baby monkeys clung to the terry cloth surrogates, even when their physical nourishment came from bottles mounted on the bare wire mothers. This suggested that infant love was no simple response to the satisfaction of physiological needs.   What does hugging do for us?

Hugging reduces the risk of heart diseases.   Hugging calms and reduces stress.  Hugging is good for your relationship.   It increases bonding by releasing oxytocin from our brain and helps relaxation and feelings of intimacy & commitment.    When we hug someone, we are showing our love and joy in a special way without words.

Hugging can relieve stress by releasing tension in the body.  It can increase understanding and empathy and can decrease depression.   Hugging is a mood elevator (by increased serotonin and endorphins) and can boost your self-esteem.

All these factors can boost your immunity.    Don’t you love to be hugged?   Hug someone you haven’t hugged in a long time – and keep hugging those you hug often.   If there is no one, hug a tree – it may bloom better for you.   Sending you e-hugs from me.

Marie Coppola  Revised September 4, 2018

 

 

 

Can Computers Cause Stress?

 

Every now and then we all have computer problems. It’s a bummer. You can’t get onto the Internet and you need to do that ASAP. Sometimes, the screen gets all wiggly or gives you a message that it is shutting down and you scream, ’NOOO,  I didn’t save what I finished yet – wait!  Aghhhh.  Why didn’t I save it?”  Bang head against computer.  It may turn it on again, or you may have created a more serious computer problem.

We all know how we feel when we can’t get to a site we need to right away OR you have someone on the phone–and the computer, for the first time in weeks, decides to s-l-o-w-l-y — t-u-r-n   o-n and slug along while someone is waiting on the other end tapping his or her fingers while you say the now old cliche, ‘my computer is really slow today.’  Not fun for your nimble fingers itching and ready to pound the keys that won’t let them. Is the server down? or is the system having problems?  The views are not working right? — #@%?>#

 

 

 

 

 

What do you do when these problems come up at work and the administrators are trying their best to fix them? They know and hear that the user is getting mighty frustrated. Here are some tips & suggestions for those days when this inevitably happens to everyone.

1.  DON’T vent your frustrations out on on the Help Desk employees. They are trying their best to fix it.  Word will get around how unreasonable  you are — yes, they will say that  — not to mention that probably your boss is hearing about it.  In the scheme of proper and improper behavior, let’s not ‘bite the hand that feeds you’ and/or ‘don’t air dirty laundry’ about how incompetent the Help Desk is to the nearby personnel. They may be amused at first, but that gets old quick.   The Help Desk won’t be amused.

2.  Try to be patient. No one likes to have to wait for things or not be told what is going on. When things aren’t quite up to par technically,  some of you want to hit the Panic Button, and do;   Others wait patiently for the air to clear and haven’t said a word.  Shalom.  It is duly noticed by others in your group how you react under stress.

3 . Read any article that explains systems problems, especially those dealing with adding on servers and LAN’s and how traffic is intricate and inter-related. You will see that they take time to develop, time to test and time to implement. Plus, it takes time to get the bugs out.  We all know about bugs; we’ve all had them – the computer kind, that is.

4.  Try to imagine the worst thing that could happen – like your company could put you totally in the dark, and you could get ERROR messages on everything that is out there. All of your reports and work articles could be frozen out there somewhere forever.  They may not be backed up and lost forever.   See, things could be worse.  If you can get some screens, although that isn’t warm and fuzzy, it should be somewhat comforting.

 

 

 

 

 

5.  While you’re pounding the keys harder than what they were made for, remember that you have the advantage of having a job and it is usually OK – except when the server is not working right?  Yes, I do hear you and validate you – you sure know some really bad words — normally, you do like what you are doing.  Come on, admit it, or you wouldn’t be so frustrated. That’s better.  Now try to smile a little.  Come on – that’s a smile?  All right, forget about it.

6. Do not give in to the urge to sweep the computer off the desk onto the floor.  Big mistake.  Think of something pleasant instead.  You can if you try.  Or go for a walk.

7. Stop putting even  more phone messages on the Help Desk line.  They’ve already been inundated with questions asked and re-asked.  Breathe in and out.

8.  You look better.  Uh Oh, your eyebrows are knitting together again.  Relax.  Think happy thoughts; remember, you’ll make up this time   Somehow, Somewhere, Sometime.   Isn’t that a Barbra Streisand song?   Oh, come on, that was a joke – stop throwing things.

9.  Whoops, you’re pounding away again – not good for the keyboard.   And another call to the Help Desk — tsk tsk.   You already ‘aired’ that annoyance twice already. Stop calling them.  Yes, Stop.

Oh, look, the system is up now.   And they have fixed all the glitches.

Now, admit it — wasn’t it kind of nice to take a little break?  OK, OK, I’m going.

 

 

 

(C) Marie Coppola  Revised August 2018

 

 

Afraid of Flying?

Flying in an airplane is about par with giving an oral presentation. You feel you can’t do it — it’s a dreaded thing to do but once you do it, you’re always grateful when it’s over with and you’ve survived.

Having been up in a small plane in my teens with my brother who had just gotten his license, I remember the open sides on the small propeller plane and my knees shaking the whole time we were up in the air. I vowed that I would never get in another plane as long as I lived.

Fast forward to work experiences, and a proposed company trip to Puerto Rico for a convention that shattered my equilibrium.   After not sleeping  two nights before the flight actually transpired, I re-enacted the wobbly knees of former experience and even took a Valium someone offered me. Just as I was settling into the level just below wigging out, someone from work who knew of my fear, yelled out, “Hey Marie, your horoscope says you shouldn’t travel today”.  Funny to everyone on board but me. The trip is a blur going and coming and the time in the air was the whole focus of the trip.

I vowed yet again, I would never fly.  A couple of years later, my job required ‘flying’ but only on the east coast for career seminars. I didn’t want to fly – period.  No way.  I always went into my fugue on these trips and always made sure I was with someone I knew. A short time later, there was a human resource need for supporters on an outreach program in Cincinnati and I had to go alone! This was an up-all nighter worrying fest and thankfully, I knew someone from the company on the flight.  White knuckles all the way.

On each flight, I vowed it would be my last. I hated flying – too much free floating anxiety around.

I really got good at making excuses for not traveling or making other arrangements (why don’t you come up this way?) and just when I felt that I never had to fly again, I married a man who was born in Europe and had family there. He redid the family house and wanted to travel to Italy at least once a year. Eight or nine hours one way?  And the same the way back?   No way.  I barely did the east coast for up to 3 hours top. All that time in a plane? I would never last.

He never insisted, but I did always want to see Italy. So this is how I get on a plane every year to travel 8 or 9 hours to go to Italy.

It has to be something you really want to do.  Like visiting a last family member in Scotland or a vacation in France that someone gifted  for you. You have to be the one to decide, just like giving up smoking or deciding to lose weight – it’s your call and something you want to do more than you fear it.

I went to local airports and watched the planes come in and go out. They do that every couple of minutes or less. And they were all fine. And thought about all the planes that came in all day there every couple of minutes – in and out. And thought of all the cities and airports all over the world that do the same thing. All those flights.

The things that can go wrong on a flight are nothing like other modes of traveling. You hear about accidents and crashes all the time with cars, trains and ships but flying is actually the safest way to travel.

You have to minimize stress if you decide to travel – travel light and detail your arrangements. Make direct flights where you don’t have to juggle your luggage through airports to another terminal.

Try to get an aisle seat when you make flight arrangements. It gives you some control over getting up and getting down, using the rest room and just stretching your legs.
Bring things that will absorb you so that you don’t count the whirrs the engine is making and one time if there are more than usual and you wonder why.  I bring books that I’ve been wanting to read, crossroad puzzles, my journal and datebook to go over for the trip.

International flights usually have wonderful ways to keep your mind occupied: they show new movies.  They also have computers in front of each person where you can track your flight or play games like poker or solitaire or watch popular TV programs. The same head gear lets you listen to all kinds of music.    I bring a warm, long sweater; it’s cozy while closing your eyes even if you don’t sleep.

They also sometimes have a duty-free service aboard and sell all these neat things – it’s like shopping on QVC – another mind-diverting tactic.   There is usually a dinner or  a breakfast or a snack served.  So if you don’t Tylenol PM, you can drink wine.  All these servings take up time and are a nice diversion from you worrying if the pilot is still awake.

If you keep busy,  you won’t have time to focus on your fear. The more you travel, the less fearful you are.   I still don’t like to fly. I don’t like being up in the air with no control over how to steer the plane.  However, it is much more safe with the pilots up there behind the controls. But I’m more comfortable with it now and do it because I really want to go where the plane will take us.

The clincher for me that took away  my fears and fidgeting was my first European flight take-off with my all-relaxed husband and me with white knuckles.  I looked at him and he smiled as we took off, and he sweetly said, “Did you leave your faith on the ground?”  Since I am a faith-based person, this made tremendous sense to me;  I relaxed and now leave my trip safety in God’s hands.

Marie Coppola © Revised August 2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About Marie Coppola
Marie Coppola A long-time human resources administrator and paralegal (B.S. in Business Administration/ Psychology, Certified Paralegal), Marie writes to aid employees with positive career options and resources, and to assist in career development solutions for students and employees; counsels on resumes, securing employment, and being successful with promotable possibilities. Marie finds inspiration in her faith, which she enjoys passing on to others, and finds gratification in helping others wherever she can. Got a question, need advice? Marie can be reached at mcopp@ymail.com View all posts by Marie Coppola →

 

 

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The Second Grandchild

 

Grandparents like to keep things ‘even’ between their grandkids and I am no exception.   I wrote an article about the oldest one and here is one for the youngest.   We have 2 Grand-boys – 5 years apart.

The first child or grandchild is usually a ‘trial child’ in what you allow or don’t allow or , what they can or can’t eat, or what they can do or can’t do.    When the first grandchild was born, we lived 13 hours away from them.  When he was  three years old, we brought him home with us  from a visit there and he was an angel all the long  drive home.   When we were 2 miles from home,  Dan asked  once, “Are we there yet?”   He stayed a week, enjoyed himself up until the time his parents came by to take him home.

When the 2nd child came along five years later, everyone was somewhat ‘relaxed’ about having ‘young-uns’ in the house again.   When new arrival, Drew, turned three, we had relocated and were now only 2 and a half hours away.   We were relaxed and practiced grandparents and looked forward to taking the smallest one home with us.  Big brother was in school and one weekend we drove up to pick up our visitor to bring him back with us for a “vacation”.

Drew was very excited about being with us.   We enjoyed going on ‘Tommy’s Train’ in Wilmington and spoiling him for anything he wanted for lunch and bought a big shopping bag for souvenirs, T-shirts and train replica kits.   We had a wonderful first day.  Happily tired,  we went home, had a snack and got ready for bed.    I did the dishes, Papa rocked him in the rocking chair and we sang songs.

Finally, I brought him into his bed, tucked him in and kissed him goodnight.   He was very quiet as I left the room.   Ten minutes later when I checked on him, he hadn’t moved from where I left him.   When I came around to his side, I noticed right away that not only was he not sleeping but streams of tears were cascading down his little face.

Alarmed he might be ill, I asked him questions and he shook his head no to all.  When I asked if he was missing mommy & daddy & brother, he nodded yes.   I told him if he felt like this in the morning, we would drive him home.   He nodded yes.  I noticed, too, that we forgot to take along  ‘Lamb’,  his going-to-sleep-since-birth partner. I called  his home  so he could speak to his parents and he then went into a sound sleep.

I was hoping he would forget this in the morning, but he got up and started packing.   We didn’t even ask if he still wanted to go home as we all got in the car and drove the two and a half  hours to his  home.

When we arrived, there was an unknown car in the driveway – a military buddy and his wife were visiting his parents.  We all went into the house, exchanged greetings and explained our return.  Shortly thereafter, we said our goodbyes to everyone to drive back home.  Drew shouted,  “Nonna, WAIT!”  He collected  his gear  we had brought back with us (and this time Lamb was included) and Drew said “I’m ready.”  We told him that was fine but we weren’t coming back again until 5 days had passed  – would he be OK with that?  And he nodded up and down in agreement.

We brought him back with us and he was a perfect guest for the next week.   No tears, no missing home — he was very relaxed.   And we had a great week.

Why that  extra trip home?  We never found out.   My instinct is that he had had never been in the new surroundings and he may have thought that was his ‘new home’.    Plus, Lamb wasn’t with him.   And by taking  home that first next day, he was convinced that we weren’t going to keep him forever.  And perhaps there was that good feeling that he had some control in when he could go back to his family home.    Sometimes, grown-ups have to listen to little people’s thoughts or wishes even if they don’t understand why themselves.   To his credit,  if he hadn’t insisted on coming back with us again,  he would have missed out on a happy, memorable and cuddly visit.   And a great memorable  gift to his grandparents.

 

A Marriage Tripod

 

We attended a wedding this past weekend. I truly love weddings. There’s something about wedding ceremonies that evoke emotions of love and commitment to celebrate the joining of two people in a new life path.  Sometimes the couple express their feelings towards each other, in a spiritual or scriptural setting. The blessing asks for happiness, joy, commitment, sharing, and always love.

It is sad that many marriages break up – between 45% and 50% of them.  But, what about that beautiful wedding and all the emotions that got stirred up?  Where is that couple who vowed to love each other forever, forsaking all others?  Where and why did 45 to 50% of them falter?

They may have forgotten something. They may have left Someone out.

The traditional wedding ceremony usually involves a religious setting, asking God to bless the union, free it of jealousy, anger, infidelity and selfishness.  Church weddings include God in the service and He is a part of the day’s happiness and union.  A large part.  One in which the entire family partakes.

The marriage union has more chance to succeed if they remember to include God in their relationship from the very beginning.

Having God in your marriage is like being part of a tripod.  It won’t stand on just 2 feet.  It needs the 3rd foot for balance.  It is an essential accessory for holding a marriage steady at slow-moving speeds or when we plan long, hoped-for ranges.  A God-tripod is the best way to prevent a problem marriage. Otherwise, without it may cause out-of-focus problems or topple over and have to be discarded.

Marriage unions can strengthen by attending and working at church activities or ministries together. Doing so keeps an awareness of keeping God in the marriage. Scripture heard at chuch reminds couples to: Accept one another;  Care for one another;  Carry each other’s burdens;  Forgive one another;  Encourage, build up one another;  Spur one another on to love and good deeds,  Confess your sins to one another; and Pray for one another.

Pray together.  It is difficult – almost impossible – to feel anger or not forgive someone when you pray with him or her.  Work at not ‘holding on’ to any anger overnight – it may still have embers that may flare up in the morning.  “In your anger do not sin. Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.”

Taken all together, these Scriptures are a blueprint for a happy marriage.  Include God in the blueprint, and you will be blessed with a mate who will love you as much as you love back.

A happily married couple once told us their secret:  You have to feel that both of you are giving 125%.  Include God in that percentage and your odds will go way up.

“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy… husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies…….each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. (Ephesians 5:25-33)

© Marie Coppola Revised 7/30/ 2018

I Found My Thrill in the NICU

Like most mothers with newly married daughters, it wasn’t long after the wedding ceremony that I obsessed on becoming a grandmother.   Being Italian, it was very important to join that rank of becoming a  “Nonna”.    It was two years and 6 months later that my daughter and son-in-law  dropped by and announced that they were expecting.   By July 4th, the anticipation day, I would be holding my first grandchild.  Such excitement.

The day came a little early, June 29th which was my father’s birthday.   More excitement.   We waited for the ‘good news'(a boy or a girl?)  but did not expect that  our first grand-baby — a boy — was in one of our finest hospitals – in the NICU.   I didn’t know what that was but quickly learned it meant a neonatal intensive care unit, also known as an intensive care nursery  specializing in the care of ill or premature newborn infants. Neonatal refers to the first 28 days of life. Neonatal care, as known as specialized nurseries or intensive care, has been around since the 1960s.    Here we were in 1995.

Our new baby, named Daniel. was a small being covered in wires, tubes and other apparatus in a small incubator.   A blood disorder was the suspected cause; only family members were allowed in the room lined up with other incubators.  Mandatory clean linens and masks were distributed to be in that room – and immediate family only.

Daniel’s parents were there all the time; she was nursing Daniel and brought him her  colostrum, the first secretion from the mammary glands after giving birth, which is rich in antibodies and very good for infants.  She continued to do this everyday.   The traveling. the worry and stress from not bringing a baby home after it’s birth was tiring and disturbing to a new mother.   It is a challenge to all mothers who have everything in place except the baby.

The Fourth of July arrived five days later .  Normally this holiday is a family picnic day,  but  there were little changes in little Daniel.   We all talked the new mother into attending the picnic – a much needed change of scenery.   We all attended and it did help.   After a couple of hours I excused myself and left.  To get home,  I had to go past the hospital.   I parked and went into the NICU.  There was little traffic that holiday afternoon and less in the hospital;  and since it was a holiday, the hospital was  small-staffed that day.   A baby was crying when I arrived and the nurse, who recognized me,  said that was my grandson.

I asked if I could hold him – I never had.   She said since it was so small staffed, it would be helpful and appreciated since he had come off all his attachments and had been crying on and off all morning.   She got a hard chair for me to sit on.  She left me and then returned and placed Daniel in my lap.   He was so precious and beautiful without his wires and he drew in a big breath and sighed loudly.  Almost sounding relieved.   I pressed his papoose-type blanketed little body close to my own and hummed lullabies and rocked him until he fell asleep.

He slept while I held him for the next 3 hours.    The nurse came by and asked if she could take him and put him back.   Reluctantly, I said OK.   He didn’t wake up;  he had kinda worn himself out.  She thanked me and said, “Have a good day”.   I answered, “I already have”.   When she took him, I felt the very warmth of his body still next to  my heart.

That feeling of warmth and love for Daniel has never gone away – I still feel it after 23 years.

Marie Coppola  July 2018

 

afraid to fly

 

As we age, don’t our time spans seem to shorten?   If you are retired, you may remember thinking how much extra time you would have if you could only retire early.  Work days slipped into welcome weekends in which weekly chores, grocery shopping, social events, catch-up events and anything else not work-related took precedence.   Before you blinked twice, Monday rolled around again and back on the merry-go-round.

Somehow all those things got done until we did retire.   Retirement was going to bring meditations, exercise classes, dieting, volunteering, church work, and vacations.   Lots of visiting and long week-end vacations, home or away.    We could lounge at the pool or the beach and read all the books in the bookcase that never got read.    Have tea parties, cook-outs and grandkids visit.   Frequently.   Well, occasionally.   All right – when everyone is available at the same time.

Now that retirement came into fruition and the recent announcement that the highest new age demographic is for folks over 100 years old, is it what we dreamed about?   Nope.  There is so much going on that days slip into weekends and less is getting done than ever.   What happened to those old-time summer-time school vacations?   Do you remember?

By the meteorological calendar, spring starts on March 1. The seasons are defined as Spring (March, April, May), Summer (June, July, August), Autumn (September, October, November) and Winter (December, January, February).

Think back to middle school.   We started school every fall after Labor Day in September and had a school winter and spring vacation.  They were short.   Summer vacation (also called summer holiday or summer break) where students and instructors are off school from doing work typically last between 8 and 9 weeks; summer break is  approximately 2.5 to 3 months, with students typically getting out of school between late May and mid-June and starting the new school year between mid-August and early September.

Do you remember how eagerly we looked forward to summer break?   No more teachers, no more books, no more teachers’ dirty looks.  Bring it on.  I remember the lightheartedness and happiness of not having to get up in the morning, rush and get to school on time and don’t forget all your books & materials.   Sounds something like the future ‘working days’.

What I remember most about my own personal summer vacations is we didn’t always go on one.  We might have gone every few years or at least visit the beach for the day.   So what did I do for almost three precious months.   I complained incessantly that there was ‘nothing to do’ and repeatedly that I was bored (which brought suggestions to do work around the house.)   I couldn’t wait to get back to school to learn new things but especially to see all the kids I knew from kindergarten who changed in looks every year when we all returned back to school.

Out of boredom mostly, I pleaded with Mom to buy me a pair of moccasins – I have no idea why I wanted them – I guess they were popular with teens to wear with dungarees.   My mother handed me the Sears catalog and I spent quite some time analyzing which ones I wanted to order and then the long wait for them to be ordered and mailed.   It took 4 weeks for them to appear.   I was happy to get them but immediately became bored with them.

I remember sitting in the backyard wishing that school started next week so I could wear my new moccasins to school.   I did little that summer but wish the time away and polish my moccasins.

Imagine having almost 3 months to do nothing — but instead get bored.    Is that why there is a saying that ‘youth is wasted on the young’.

Marie Coppola  July 2018