Day 2: Gratitude is Seeing the Connection

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My crazy friend asked me to give voice to my gratitude for three things, once a day for a week.  This is a warning, I tend to wax philosophical and I can be long winded.

Day 2. Monday, September 22, 2014

This is the first day with no children in the house. I guess that makes me an empty nest-er, but, I hate the term since I’m not sure my kids were ever featherless, much less confined to this house.  Come to think of it, I’m not even confined to this house and I like it that way.  Wait, I said no kids, well, except the monster my son left behind. Her name is Luna, has four legs and a tail, weighs 22.5 Kilos and is 8 months old.   Enough said.

This morning, after retrieving Luna from the kennel where she waited while we unceremoniously dumped my youngest at his college this weekend, I decided that breakfast was in order.  As I often do, I found a movie on NetFlix and played it as I cooked, ate and cleaned the kitchen.  The movie is called Strangers in Good Company and is about 8 elderly women stranded in the wilderness near a lake. The are all different in many ways and in various stages of their lives. The movie is slow paced as the women themselves but like the women, it eventually reveals a message about connection.

Connections usually aren’t obvious to us until they are broken, changed, missing or otherwise tampered with.  Yet, connections are what keep us alive as social beings.  We are the ones that give meaning to everything we do and somehow, the meanings we ascribe to our connection either strengthen them, or allow them to come apart.

My entire life I have lamented being poor at keeping my connections to others alive and well.  It’s not that I don’t want to maintain friendships, its that the world moves at an incredible pace and often, and well, the timing is off.  So when we find a connection that is formed on the basis of an activity, like soccer, theater, children, etc we tend to be good at it because we are given time to nourish it in a carved out, natural, and coordinated fashion.  These are the timed, recurring connections that are easy to maintain.

Sometimes, those connections grow, like a spider web and we are blessed with complicated, longer term relationships we call friendships.  These friendships last despite changes in definition or strength of connection we have with those people.

These are connections that span time, place, and situation.  I have three of these type of connections for which I am eternally grateful.

The first and perhaps oldest connection of this type that I have is with my cousin, Celi.  Her full name is Araceli Vidaurri. Of course, this means that her dad and my mother are siblings.  I have often written about my adventures with this chick. Usually, she is on the wrong end of the butt of my humor.  You may think that I just mixed a metaphor but in reality, this is actually a literal statement.  She through the years makes fun of the size of my butt, and I make fun of everything else about her.  She usually provide all the ammunition given that despite being the bravest person I know, she is also very much a chicken and big baby.  She tackles those things in life that require grit and determination, but will climb you like the totem pole of the Jungle Cruise ride if she sees a bee too close to her.  She will gird her loins and attack Mt. Whitney, but will gag at the idea of eating a piece of onion.  She will endure pain and discomfort on a hike that would make anyone call for a helicopter rescue, but will pull you back by your pony tail and push you into a swamp filled with alligators if she hears a twig snap too close to her.

Celi is a book full of contradiction. Her simultaneous fondness and fear of “paranormal” activity is confounding. Her love of backpacking and real fear of Big Foot is hilarious. Her need to be herself and left alone is contrary to her deep rooted attachment to every single member of her family. While this is not unusual for many of you, it is different than how I live. I am in awe of this manner of living. She is so special to me that I named my daughter after her.

The second connection that I’d like to tell you about is in many ways very much like my connection with Celi.  Lenora Holland, married my brother.  While things didn’t work out, she likes to tell people that she got me in the divorce. Lenora has given me my nieces and nephew, all four of whom I love dearly.  She has been the greatest example of kindness I can think of.  She is a teacher, a mentor, a mother, a friend to many, an adventurer and as sensitive a soul you’ll never find.  I am so glad she claimed me as her sister.  While I have many sisters in spirit, she is actually of me and me of her. I have, since the day her first child was born, known that her children are mine, and mine are hers. She is the epitome of my comadre.

Lennie is right as rain and except for this negative attraction to having things go wrong with her body, she is tough as nails and strong as an ox. When she says she is going to do something, she does it.  She is a master of being there for others, often at a genuine cost to her.  She like Celi, relishes family and is deeply connected to all the children in our lives.  She is a little vindictive in that she named her middle child after me, and now I have to deal with a personality much like mine.  Well played Lenora, well played. I wouldn’t trade anything away, not one thing.

The third connection I would like to tell you about is Kelly Zeilsdorf. I first came to know Kelly through Lenora, when all our kids were little.  Lenora and her mom, ran a daycare so that Lennie could continue her studies and all the kids could be taken great care of at home.  Kelly brought her crazy boys to that house and a great friendship was born.  I met her on those occasions that I traveled to Bakersfield to see the family. This connection was a relatively sporadic connection, much like a soccer mom connection. I only infrequently saw Kelly and the kids during birthday parties, etc.  But one day, Lenora convinced me to go hiking, then backpacking.  Kelly of course, would be there as well and a friendship grew.

Kelly is a nurse, and like Lenora, is a caregiver right down to her DNA.  She is a happy, lover of life and celebrates every moment and every breath she takes.  When Kelly lost her son Matt to the disease of suicide she decided to work toward educating people about the signs and symptoms. She is as loving a person as you’ll ever meet. Her kindness toward me, especially when we are out in the middle of the wilderness is beyond words.  She has demonstrated grace, unconditional love, levelheadedness, and strength beyond description, and I love her for it.

These girls are three of the six hiker chicks and I am eternally grateful for their friendship. Our connections started in three distinct ways, but all have resulted in meaning that transcends words and becomes emotion.  The memories that tie me back to each of these ladies leave visible threads of connection that are only visible by us.

Like a spiderweb laden with dew, gratitude is a connection only visible through the eyes of love.  I am grateful for Celi, Lennie, and Kelly for illuminating my life through our connections.

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About Caro

I am a social worker by training and a peace officer by profession having worked with California’s delinquent youth and young adults for 28 years. I firmly believe that our development as humans depends on our environment and that sometimes we get stuck. As such, I write about those things we sometimes ignore or fail to see until we are forced to pay attention.
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