Tag Archives: National Thank You Month

THE WHEELS GO ‘ROUND AND ‘ROUND

This week has been brutal in Colorado...it's not a good time to try to ride a bike.

This week has been brutal in Colorado…it’s not a good time to try to ride a bike.

 

 

bike in snow

 

 

My first “it’s mine and nobody else’s” bike was a blue Western Flyer. No bells and whistles, and definitely no training wheels, just a great bike.   I was seven when my mom taught me to ride it. She pointed me straight ahead on the sidewalk, holding on the to back of the seat, and running along with me as I wobbled and squealed and pedaled, clutching the handle-bar grips for all I was worth. Mark Twain was right when he said, “Get a bicycle. You will not regret it…if you live.” I took a lot of tumbles and was scabs and band-aides from head to toes for a while, but soon I was riding all around the neighborhood.

The amazing thing about Mom teaching me to ride a bike was that she had never learned to ride one. She grew up on a Missouri farm where the roads were dirt and gravel. Her mother taught her to drive a car—and they ended up in a ditch before Mom became proficient—but she never learned to ride a bike.

Almost ten years ago, when my dad was still alive, Mom and I drove down to Chicken Annie’s near Pittsburg, KS to pick up to-go meals to take back for us, Dad, and his caregiver to have for dinner. As we sat outside at the picnic table waiting for our order, two older women—maybe grandmothers—stood one on each side of a young boy trying to learn to ride a bike. It was a familiar comedy of errors, with near falls and close calls for both the women and the little boy, but finally the boy took off. Mom and I cheered and clapped . For the boy, yes, but especially for his teachers. “You did that for me, Mom,” I said, and she nodded, smiled and said, “I remember.” I put my arm around her and kissed her cheek. “Thank you.”

January is National Thank You Month. Take it from one who knows, if there’s anyone in your life—a relative, friend, teacher, neighbor, anyone who’s offered you help or shown you a kindness—thank that person this month. I’m glad I thanked my mother for the bike riding lesson when I did; within a few years she would not have understood what I was saying. I remember that day, the way she smiled and nodded, and I also realized that saying Thank You is a double blessing, once for the person receiving the thanks, and once for the person expressing it.

This is also Universal Letter Writing Week. If you have an older friend, someone in the hospital or a nursing home, please write a card or letter thanking them for one specific thing they did for you. Nurses and caregivers are very responsive to reading aloud the cards and messages, and often the recipients will hold their cards and fall asleep with them.

These two activities are excellent examples of Janus looking backward and forward at the beginning of the new year. When we look back at what others have done for us and reach forward to thank them, we change our lives…and theirs.

It’s a matter of balance. Albert Einstein wrote: “Life is like riding a bicycle—in order to keep your balance, you must keep moving.” And a good example of that forward movement is gratitude.

Bike ornament on my wall.  (Pictures by Marylin Warner)

Bike ornament on my wall. (Pictures by Marylin Warner)

 

"Fat Tire #3" original sculpture in Salina, KS., by Lance Carlton Washington

“Fat Tire #3” original sculpture in Salina, KS., by Lance Carlton Washington

Framed bicycle print with message by Flavia: "Somewhere between the earth and sky, there is a secret place we all go to dream."

Framed bicycle print with message by Flavia: “Somewhere between the earth and sky, there is a secret place we all go to dream.”

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Filed under Dementia/Alzheimer's, importance of doing good things, lessons about life, making a difference, special quotations

TWO FACES, BRIGHT EYES, AND LONG TOES

grace eyes

mollys eyegannon eyes

Dear Mom,

When you bought the full set of the WORLD BOOK ENCYCLOPEDIA, you taught me to be curious about details…all kinds of details about all kinds of things.  I’m pretty sure I was the only third grader who knew January is named after the god Janus. And according to mythology, Janus (Latin word for door) has two faces so he can look backward at the old year and forward into the new year.

I now use another technique for finding and learning information, Mom—the internet!  Oh, if it weren’t for the confusion of your dementia, what fun you could have! For instance, here are more details: January is National Braille Literacy Month, and maybe as a companion concern, it is also Eye Care Month.  January is National Blood Donor Month, and then maybe to give you strength to donate blood, it is also Hot Tea Month and National Oatmeal Month!

And this is your great-grandchildren’s favorite detail: January 23 is Measure Your Feet Day. They loved learning that  since their big toes are the same length or longer than the next toe, they supposedly have a natural advantage in skiing, sprinting, jogging, and other sports!

But this fact I learned from neither the encyclopedia nor the internet, but from you: January is National Thank You Month. When I was growing up, I knew that January was when I wrote notes to grandparents and other relatives and friends, thanking them for Christmas gifts.  I used fancy note paper and colored pens, and each note was more than just a quick Thank You. You had taught me about “writing conversations on paper” and expressing genuine appreciation.

That’s what this blog is, Mom, a  series of 85 posts (so far), Thank You notes I hope are like conversations written on paper. Your life has made such a difference in my life and so many other lives. I’m thankful for you every day of every month, and not just January!

feet frogkids feet

P.S.  Last week’s responses with favorite quotes were amazing—a warm Thank You to everyone who shared. I’m always grateful for the generous responses of blogging friends.

This week I also add a HUGE Thank You to Tom Stronach(@tomstronach), our wonderful UK friend who sent a link for the UK anti-Alzheimer’s/dementia brain drink. For more information:  http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2013/01/14/anti-alzheimers-dementia-brain-shake-sale-_n_2470709.html

The site also has great videos on signs of dementia and caring for those with memory loss.  Thank you so much, Tom, for sharing this.  As William Shakespeare said, “I can no other answer make, but thanks, and thanks.”

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Filed under Dementia/Alzheimer's, making a difference, memories for grandchildren, memories for great-grandchildren, Things to be thankful for, writing