Essentially Esther Banner

Wednesday, October 31, 2007


Sixteen years ago we buried my mother on this date. We didn’t want to bury her on Halloween but we had to for family members who wouldn’t be able to come sooner. Sometimes we do things differently than we want for very good reasons.

I am not alone in losing loved ones. Many of you out there have walked the halls of sorrow and it is a lonely walk. With the many words people mean for comfort the heart just can’t take them in. Rather it seems to make the loss greater. I am not criticizing for at times I’ve said the same cliché’s……but over the years I’ve stopped saying, “I know how you feel or they are not suffering anymore. All things happen for good…..if you need anything, just call…it will get better in time.”

After years of trying to offer sympathy to others I began to lose family members of my own. I was hearing what I’d been saying and it made me realize how shallow some of that sounds on the receiving end. The truth of the matter is this, no matter how sincere we may be….when we don’t know what to say, we should not say anything.

A hug with a pat on the back speaks volumes. Holding hands is very comforting. It is not a time for questions, or advice or to need solace from the grieving person. Give them the courtesy of not having to think or respond in any way. Silence is the gift of grief.

Of all the many verses received when Rocky died, there are a few that stood out and were actually comforting. I would like to share one of my favorites, with you.


We little knew that morning that God was going to call your name,
In life we loved you dearly, in death we do the same.
It broke our hearts to lose you, you did not go alone;
For part of us went with you, the day God called you home,
You left us peaceful memories, your love is still our guide
And though we cannot see you, you are always at our side.
Our family chain is broken, and nothing seems the same
But as God calls us one by one, the CHAIN will link again.

I have no name to offer for this verse, the writer remains unknown. I hope when you need comfort it will speak to you as it has to me…..and whoever penned the verse is blessed as those who read their thoughts.

Until tomorrow, I am,
Essentially Esther

Tuesday, October 30, 2007


Well the debate knocking around in my brain is over. I was like an alcoholic who knew they shouldn’t take that next drink but they are reaching for it. Little Punkin’ is at the Vet ready for surgery tomorrow, claws removed, complete physical, bath, shots…..the whole nine yards.

I have been standing at the front door for two weeks worrying about her. The outside cats (my three and the three strays) kept chasing her off and making her life miserable. She tried to defend herself and her valiant efforts were always over-powered by bigger and more experienced cats. She had no one to take her part except me.

There is something about a lost, hungry little cat that tears my insides up. If you have ever been on your own without a lot going for you…….you can readily see what a stray is up against. With winter coming her hopes were down to few and nothing. She needed an advocate and I stepped up to the task.

It is going to be expensive to have her spayed, front claws taken off, all her shots, bathed and tests run, plus more food and the yearly shots. I know about the fur that will fly when I bring her home and let Sassy take one look at the new arrival. I have babied Sassy to the point she thinks my every thought is for her. I’m hoping the fact Punkin’ is little might bring out a maternal instinct from Sassy but even I am doubtful about that.

Knowing the commitment factor I am creating is what has been making it hard to take the plunge but today when I looked in those little eyes I couldn’t disappoint her trust. She was so needy but she never begged. How do I know that? I just do. She wanted to give the love she had to someone who would understand and provide the same for her.

You won’t believe this but I thought I saw Rocky standing there smiling when he saw me pick her up to take her to the Vet. He would have done the same……he was a sucker for someone like Punkin’……after we were married, he coaxed Callie up to the deck and she became tame, then he brought Sassy home from work one day with a sore paw, next was Chevy……the one we saved at the car dealership….lastly, here came Lovey.

If I keep on taking in kitties, this will be the biggest “cat house’ in Missouri…..but if we each do something to make something or someone happy, it is the greatest gift I know. Trust is a word worthy to live for.

Until tomorrow, I am,
Essentially Esther

Monday, October 29, 2007


Of the four stray cats who travel between Becky’s place and mine, one little cat has decided she belongs with me. She was left by a family who moved out of our neighborhood and starvation made her wander where I fed Napoleon and the other strays. Cats with their territorial rights make life hard for little “Punkin.”

I soon realized the only way she could get enough to eat, I’d have to put my three garage cats in before I tried to feed Punkin. Two male cats and one other timid little female passes by every evening for a handout. The males dominate the females and they can only eat when the males had eaten and left.

I decided to up the count on bowels and feed and sometimes there are three or four cats eating where Napoleon has always claimed as “his” place. When they all come at once it makes for a strange alliance but it seems to work.

This morning I was working in the kitchen and had the door open for fresh air. When I passed by the door, later, little Punkin was making her way slowly to the berm where Rocky’s miracle Japanese Maple is and carefully settled down in the sun. I watched her joy of the warmth and sunshine she doesn’t get to enjoy very long. She stays under the house for safety and only comes out occasionally.

I stood watching as she soaked up the sun, blinking her eyes now and then and closing them with obvious pleasure. I knew it would be short lived as the other cats patrol the area and pounce on her the minute she is noticed. I took the moment to give her some feed, at least she wouldn’t have to go back under the house on an empty tummy. Sure enough, Chevy spotted her and I tried to put Punkin under the house but she tried to defend herself.

After a few warning growls (which didn’t scare Chevy) she made a break for it and ran under the house. I feel so sad for little critters that are dumped out or left…..especially when they are too small to forage for themselves.

It’s a mighty cruel world even when good provision rules. It is only going to be a little while until I weaken and take her to the Vet to be spayed, get her shots and physical. I think little Sassy would like another cat for company and it’s the only way I can make sure Punkin’s needs are taken care of.

No matter how hard I try I can’t keep from taking in one more cat…..one more cat…..one more cat. I suppose I understand them so well that S.O.S. signals bring them right to me. As hungry as little Punkin is she is more starved for love. She twines around my ankles, rubbing my feet, and never turns down being picked up and hugged. On the other hand, God knows I need a lot of love too so I think He sends angels in the form of kitties to bring pleasure to “my” life…..and they really and truly do!!

Essentially Esther

Friday, October 26, 2007


Some years back, actually in 1979, I wrote a poem that came as self-examination. I suppose in painting we would say it is modern art. The paint is there and you are allowed to choose what the painting says to you. When I wrote this poem it was showing my vulnerable side….exposing it was a work in progress.

Most of our lives we continue on with a comfortable attitude about liking everyone and everyone liking us. Down the road a ways we find this is not true. No matter how kind, polite, helpful and caring we may be…..there will be people who do not like us.

I thought of the many television shows I watched of Red Skelton with his weekly clown character somewhere in the show. He was treated as a buffoon though he was sweet and kind. How many of us are perceived differently than we feel inside? Our intentions are quite often misunderstood. The skit usually closed with him wearing an extremely sad face sniffing a daisy.

Quite often the person who is giving and helpful is taken advantage of. Then anger follows when the giving stops. Not everyone we give to is accountable. There are two people inside of us. The one who is learning and the one who is teaching. To know one’s self is a life-long journey.

So here is the clown poem and you can see what it says to you. Words thrown on a canvas as paint.


All clowns are sad. I know. I am a clown.
We paint a smile to hide behind
Lest you see what is captive there and
Laugh the more.

Clowns prefer to have you laugh
At what you think you see rather than
To really see and scorn.

Until the next time, I am,
Essentially Esther

Thursday, October 25, 2007


Becky and I went for our flu shots this morning and I haven’t seen so many retirees in one place in a long time. Most of the folks I worked with have been retired for several years. The atmosphere was much like a high school reunion. I was struck with the fact that no one was in a hurry. Each was glad to see the other and it provided a time for us to catch up on what’s been happening in our circle.

Of course with such a group, many have had health issues or been widowed, which is sad. I can be very grateful that my health is good and the scratches on my face and neck are slowly going away. The Patrol has always been like a family and there were lots of smiling faces.

I came home and had some lunch, then went to make sure Becky’s car was going together like we hoped. I think for the damage incurred it is looking as good as it can under the circumstances. I will soon be finding a man to repair the garage roof and patch a few places here. With winter coming soon it’s a good idea to be prepared.

Saturday we will be going back to Springfield for the day……we have several things we need to see about and one day will do it. The highlight will be a good lunch where there is a large selection of restaurants.

We will soon be taking a little trip to visit Rocky’s brother Richard and his wife. It’s been in the planning stage and I think we’ve all hit a date that will work for us. It’s amazing how hard it is to make visits when we’re all retired except Becky. We will be going to Shawnee to visit George over Thanksgiving I think…….or else he will come here. We’re still working on that…….

Outside is dark and misty. Evening is coming on and our days are becoming shorter and shorter. Time to settle in for supper and some TV…….

Until the next time, I am,
Essentially Esther

Wednesday, October 24, 2007


Today was a good day. It was clear with a strong wind so the cats and I watched the leaves blow across the yard one way and then another. It seemed the wind was in harmony with the Santa Anna winds that have been pelting California. I admit I watched the updates every little bit……it’s hard to grasp that many people being sent running for their very lives and later to find their homes burned to the ground.

Living in a mobile home I have always feared wind and fire. It hasn’t made me crazy but let me just say…..I have respect for it and I do everything I can to take precautions against the possibility. I would be devastated if my Sassy and Mandy burned in our home or the three outside kitties who spend nights in our garage. My pets are great company for me and they trust me to look after them. And I do.

Tomorrow morning Becky and I go to Headquarters for our flu shots. I’ve heard of a few cases around already and I believe in the shots. They keep it from being so severe if you do contract it and sometimes we get by without getting it altogether. Once a year the Patrol provides the opportunity for employees and retired folks.

Much of my day was organizing. I am going through everything in the closets, drawers and the garage a little at a time. Since Rocky isn’t here to drag things out of the garage for me I am getting it to where I know what is in the boxes and much of my old stuff is going to the barrel I use for burning. There comes a time when we need to let go of things we hang on to.

I give away all I can, take some to the Antique Barn and burn the things that are not worth anything to anyone. I have read extensively about why we keep things and usually it’s because it belonged to a beloved relative or because we paid so much for it we think we have to keep it. I am actually enjoying my efforts……I’m finding things long forgotten….the house is a museum of sorts. The things I’ve kept all have a story……someday I think I’ll write a book about why certain things were kept. It is family history to be passed on.

I would like to know how many ladies buy produce every week and then when it’s over the hill, later on, take the mess to the garbage disposal. It has to do with intentions. My intention is to eat correctly and put as many fresh veggies and fruit into my diet as I can. I am a very smart shopper and buy healthy foods……then I come home with good intentions and I never find just the right time to incorporate them into my meals.

I’ve had a good talk with myself about this (people who live alone talk to themselves) and I don’t seem to get any better. I hate wasting food and money and I get very irritated with myself but I’m not getting anywhere. Maybe someone can tell me how to stop or start or just do without. One thing in my defense is quality of produce in the mid-west. It looks beautiful in the store but it has been shipped green and spoils before it ripens……our own growing season is too short to provide year round produce so it is discouraging. Visiting relatives on either coast sure makes me wish I could have the variety and quality they are provided.

Wednesday is almost over and before I sign off I would like to say that God has compensation for widows and orphans. I have been widowed twice and both times when a need arrives I can testify that it is taken care of. That doesn’t mean I don’t try to help myself but when I’ve gone as far as I can go……God steps in and makes up the difference. It amazes me how much He loves us, cares for us and provides every need…….as the old song says, “Just take it to the Lord in prayer.”

I have found in any situation, single, married, divorced, widowed….whatever!! God is a very present friend in time of trouble.

Until tomorrow, I am,
Essentially Esther

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


I realize I haven’t written since our bad storm last week but I can assure you I’ve been putting in my time since then. Becky’s pictures made a much better impact of what the storm did….. “a picture, you know”…..words couldn’t begin to tell what a fright and damage it was.

I began with the insurance man ASAP….they had to call an adjuster 20 miles away and he wouldn’t be able to come until the next day……busy, you know. Of course. Makes me wonder how fast they could come if I wanted to buy more insurance. (Sour grapes….you got it!)

Well, he came and I got the new updated version of help for damages. My huge Bradford Pear tree in the back was the first thing not considered. “Wind” was not in my policy unless the tree had fallen on a structure. It fell on my clothesline but I couldn’t get enough out of it to warrant a “pay off”……..the clothesline and tree removal didn’t surpass my $250 deductible. The fact it was a prize ornamental tree and the pride of my yard was, let me see……what did he say?……oh yes, he was sorry my estimate didn’t allow for damage here.

He left and went to Becky’s where I was sure I would recoup what I didn’t get on my property. He was gone for some time and when he came back he couldn’t pay anything on Becky’s car that was pinned under a huge pine with the top half on the garage roof. He said it had been “salvaged” from hail damage a few years ago…….so that took care of that. Her mobile home wasn’t hurt and the only thing he could pay for was roof repair on the garage. After he took off the deductible from that, it left $600 to repair the roof. So long and thank you for coming.

I took Becky’s car down to be repaired and the man I’ve done business with a few times gave me a very good price. It will be fixed on Thursday and until then she can drive mine to work. I gave my grandson a check for tree removal (that has been his occupation for 12 years. He works for Arkansas Electric and is good at what he does.) There are two trees to finish up and he will be done.

I will deal with the garage roof as soon as I find someone to fix it. Coming into the house with armloads of groceries yesterday, the cat and dog met me at the door doing little whirly-gigs and our feet got all tangled up causing me to fall like a hammer to the floor. As I was falling, Mandy and Sassy were scared out of their wits and tried to jump through me to get to safety………in the process, I ended up with deep scratches on my right cheek, neck and shoulder. I did the normal things to stop the bleeding and swelling……then I cleaned the scratches and put medication on them.

Every day brings some kind of surprise. When you’re a senior it just makes sense to hang loose……it can always be worse!

Essentially Esther

Thursday, October 18, 2007


I have concluded that weathermen are in a class by themselves. It takes someone special to be that interested in cloud patterns, jet streams, highs and lows and anything else the weather might do. “Might” being the operative word here. The station I get my weather from has three guys who make the weather sound so interesting I look forward to their forecasts.

No matter what the individual’s personality is defined as…..one thing for sure is, they love to predict the weather. I can imagine an adrenalin rush when they predict the big ones and the weather co-operates and comes in on time.

We are warned ahead for serious minded weather which may or may not happen. When rain is needed, our weather boys become paranoid from the general public’s cries and complaints. After all, they don’t make the weather, they just try their best to prognosticate for the rest of us.

Yesterday every channel I turned to warned of very severe weather with high wind, wind sheers, tornadoes and flooding from heavy rain. It wasn’t just local stations but the entire mid-west had weather warnings so I took a few precautions.

When you live in a mobile home you can run but you can’t hide. I went to bed and slept blissfully until around 11:00 when lightening flashes woke me with sharp thunder. I heard rain and twigs hitting the outside of the mobile home and then I heard the wind. It was frighteningly scary. You could hear it approaching through the trees with the power and surges of an oncoming freight train.

We were buffeted with fury for a few minutes and then as quickly as it came, it left. I could have heard a pin drop. I could imagine the boys at their post in the TV station doing high fives because they got another one right. This morning I woke to Becky standing over me in the dark with a flashlight……. “Mom, we’ve had a bad storm, there are trees down in our yards, I came to see if you’re all right.”

I woke quickly upon the urgency in her voice and it was too dark to see much so I made coffee and we waited until it was light enough to look around. Sad to say, my beautiful Bartlett pear tree in the back yard was split in two, right down the middle. It has always been a favorite place for the birds to come and go in our yard. Other than a large branch from an oak in back we were OK here.

Becky had two large pines uprooted. One on top of her car and the garage, the other in the back yard. The insurance adjuster will come tomorrow. We are thankful that is all the damage….thankful we are here to tell about it. And now I must go out and begin raking up the debris it left. The yard is covered with twigs, leaves and branches. So until the next time, I am,

Essentially Esther

Wednesday, October 17, 2007


I am always encouraged when I find an individual who goes out of his way to make other people happy. On Saturday at the Meet we were introduced to a young man who has had cancer but so far is now cancer free. He told us about going through all of the chemo treatments and losing his hair and the many other stages to his recovery.

He met a little girl during his treatments who had some other problems as well as her cancer. Her family was overwhelmed with grief, the treatments and who needed some encouragement.

The man told us he was so grateful to have recovered from cancer that he devised a way to help the little girl and her parents. Although holding down a steady job to care for his own family, he goes every week-end to Strongman and Powerlifting Meets to sell Tshirts. The profit is given to the little girl and other children who need help.

He isn’t a martyr, or a braggart and is genuinely happy to find a way to help. Most of us bought at least one shirt and some bought for family members as well. He travels a lot of miles each weekend to make it happen. I don’t even remember his name but I will remember him.

Cancer can kill us, can take our loved ones, can eat up our insurance and money but the bottom line is……cancer can never take away our love or our hope.

Bottom line is…….cancer cannot win!!

Until next time, I am,
Essentially Esther

Monday, October 15, 2007


Saturday was the big Meet In The Street Strongman Rockenbach Memorial competition. Rocky’s kids, Holly and Michael came with all family members. Becky and I completed the relative cheering section and I’m so very happy to say that our team won the Rock Star Trophy.

The young men had been saying for weeks that the Trophy wasn’t “going anywhere” except the wall in our gym. There were five events and beginning the last event our team was one-half point behind. The event consisted of three huge Budweiser beer kegs filled with sand, two large duffel-bags filled with sand and three huge concrete balls weighing over two and three hundred pounds.

The event would determine who would get the trophy. The team to finish first would win…….the weights were on the back of a large flatbed truck with a lift on the back. They were lowered to the street and put in a line behind the truck…..the team of two men would have to lift each weight, throw it in the back of the truck, run around to the front of the truck and push it manually with the weights to the finish line.

As our men took their places with the weights and waited for the whistle the crowd was quiet…….the whistle blew and our men “charged” those weights. They literally threw the weights onto the truck and the homefolks were screaming to high heaven, “GO ROCK STAR, GO ROCK STAR, KEEP IT UP…..YOU CAN DO IT…..GO ROCK STAR…..” They finished with the weights and ran to the front of the truck, began pushing and with all the crowd energy they “ran” it to the finish line with cheers going up like it was the Super Bowl.

The time: 23 seconds. Yes, that’s right, 23 seconds.

The other team was from Overland Park, Kansas and they worked as hard and fast as they could. They were younger and bigger……stronger …..BUT they didn’t have the “Rocky factor” our team had. Our boys were determined to honor Rocky with a win.

Their finish time: 29 seconds……therefore we got to keep the ROCK STAR TROPHY with the shooting star coming up from a granite base. I presented the trophy to our team winners and they were very happy guys.

Mission accomplished. We had a lot of Tee Shirts for sale with a shooting star on the front and Rocky’s picture on the back. We will continue selling shirts to keep the Memorial Fund going…….there will be Powerlifting Meets along with the Strongmen Meets and we will give scholarships to as many graduates next Spring as we have money for. The shirts will be altered each time with the date and event.

Rocky, honey, we did you proud!!!!
Your Esther Belle

Thursday, October 11, 2007


The weather is so beautiful….I always forget how much I love October. Our leaves are still green although we have some on the ground from the dry summer we’ve had. We’ve had no frost threat yet but the nights are dipping into the low 40’s so it won’t be long until Mr. Frost will be biting.

I’ve been working on changing the closets over to winter clothes. I like to do that ahead so when the weather turns I’m ready. I have sorted all of Rocky’s things to give to his son when I see him Saturday. Our families, who can, will be coming over Saturday morning to watch the “Meet In The Street Strongman Memorial for RockStar“. I’m anxious to see our teams compete……we will have three of them and mostly guys who worked out with Rocky. They’ve been working hard to make a good showing and hopefully keep the trophy in our gym.

I remember my senior year of high school one day when the weather was just like today. Three of my girl-friends and I decided it was too pretty to go back to school after the lunch break. We skipped and went walking along the high-way looking at all the trees changing and just being silly girls. At the peak of our adventure the Driver’s Ed class met us with everyone honking and waving. The teacher was young himself and never reported us. In those days “skipping” was a very serious offence and would bring a reprimand. Those were the days……as real as if it happened yesterday.

I wonder if any of you are watching Dancing With The Stars? Becky and I enjoy the program and wonder who will take the prize. I sit amazed looking at the beating those skimpy little costumes take during the dance and wondering what keeps them on. I wish “ready made” clothing was made as durable….…….I would think the poor women sewing them for each performance should be allowed to take a bow. It has to take hours and hours with all of the pearls and sequins, fittings and changes. I agree that this year the contestants are very highly motivated and put the work in on their dance each week. I’ve been enjoying Donnie Osmond with his cameo appearances……I guess I could say the Osmonds are the all-American family. We’ve watched their performances in different venues over the years and have always been entertained.

With the weather cooling down and the humidity gone I am beginning to feel better. Fibromyalgia is always worse in the heat and humid days of summer. Strangely I do much better in the winter so I am grateful for my recent relief. It is time to get this year’s flu shot. As a retired Driver Examiner the State makes them available and I believe in getting them. Mom used to say, “It’s better to be safe than sorry” so Mom, I’m doing my best to stay well…….and I’m always a happy girl.

Essentially Esther

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


I’m digging out of a 3-day weekend by being gone and getting all the little critters taken care of. Yesterday I just seemed to be walking from room to room looking at the unpacking, laundry and not feeling up to any of it. I’m ashamed to say I sort of took the day off and “wandered” while I organized my thoughts. It has always been hard to leave for a few days and then pick up where I left off at home.

Speaking of critters, besides the four stray cats that come right before sundown and the skunk, I took one last look before I went to bed Monday night and there was a possum eating what was left of the cat food. He was undaunted by the porch light and continued eating until I stepped on the porch, then he disappeared under the nearby foliage. I imagine once I was back inside he returned to polish off what was left.

We had a wonderful time with George and managed to get the priority things accomplished, one being laser engraving on the Memorial Trophy of Rock Star. He would be proud of our efforts, I know, but embarrassed at all the fuss over him. He preferred being in the background while others took their bows.

We hit all the best places to eat in the area and believe me, the pickin’ is easy. We managed as many as we had time for, meeting up with DiDi and her family for one big night at the Shawnee Pizza Parlor. It has always been a favorite of our family. Becky and DiDi are as close as sisters and always have more fun than a barrel of monkeys. George and I rarely get in a word but we eat while they gab.

Back to the trophy. This coming Saturday morning is the RockStar Memorial Strongman “Meet In The Street” at the gym. It is an outdoor event with the street blocked off while the guys compete in teams for the RockStar trophy. Our gym has 3 teams and they’ve been working hard to keep the trophy at our gym. They are definite about not letting it go to another gym. I drove it down to the gym yesterday afternoon and Craig who is doing a lot of work on the project was delighted with the outcome. It was engraved and then filled in with gold leaf. Beautiful.

Craig was in charge of the Tee-Shirts for the Meet. Holly (Rocky’s daughter) made the design and Craig has dealt with the design and silk print folks who will put Rocky’s picture on the back and a shooting star on the front. I can hardly wait to see the finished product. Everyone has put in stellar effort on all this.

Speaking of effort…….I’d better get busy with things here. I can report the weather is perfect October and it’s hard to stay inside, but I must. I made myself a little happier by opening all the windows and baby, it’s a cool breeze but I keep telling myself it’s “free air-conditioning. I hope you have had a good weekend as well and here we are, half-way to another……now that’s a “good” thing.

Until the next time, I am,
Essentially Esther

Friday, October 05, 2007


Friday again and I’m getting ready to go to Shawnee tomorrow. I had a garage door opener put on yesterday and today I went to drive the car out so I could get to some boxes…….well, guess what? It wouldn’t go up high enough to get the car out. I may be staying home.

I called the company who put the Geni in and they are supposedly sending a man by on his way home to fix my “problem.” The way I’m looking at it ……..they’re the ones who have the problem. When they left yesterday they said the bill would be sent in the mail.

Now since they don’t have their money and I have a Geni that won’t work I figure it’s going to be one big “stare down.” I’ve learned this from my cats and the other strays who come around. They just stop in their tracks take a big long look with ears drawn back and wait to see who flinches. Sooner or later one will slowly slink off like they just remembered they had something to do. The other cat of course takes this for a victory and starts laughing. (OK…..maybe not laughing. I threw that in.)

Well, I’d better get to some serious packing so I hope to see you Tuesday after Becky and I get home on Monday. Have a great Columbus Day weekend. Half the country doesn’t know what that is and the other half love when it comes around because State and Federal employees get the day off.

So whatever Monday is for y’all, I hope it’s a good one.

Until the next time, I am,
Essentially Esther

Thursday, October 04, 2007

GOING ON..... 

Yesterday I wrote about nursing homes and assisted living homes. When I was young the families took care of their aging parents. My dad’s mother and later his brother lived with us for years and even after my brother and I left home. My dad worked away for many of the years and mom was a stay-at-home mom. The fact was that my mother had a lot more to deal with in those issues than dad.

Mom was a quiet, non-abrasive person who seemed to handle everything without a ripple. She didn’t have a handy councilor to help her deal with the stress she was bound to have. At the age I was, I didn’t know what stress was and mom carried on without whining so we took it as “no problem.” Now that I’m a very senior adult and think about it, I don’t know how she kept from losing her mind.

Mom never had a washer in her life. She didn’t have hot running water. She had to heat water to wash and when we moved to Missouri it meant she also had to build a fire to heat the water after it was pulled up from the well……….then wash the family clothing on a scrub-board. Dad, my brother and uncle wore their clothes as long as they could but it didn’t help the back-breaking job for my mother. The dirtier the clothes came to the tub, the more she had to scrub. The clothes were hung over the fence around the house to dry.

The things people take for granted now would have been an enormous help in those days. Most people my age grew up that way……and those who have, never take hot water for granted. I’ve mentioned many times how grateful I am every time I turn the hot water faucet and water springs forth for whatever my needs are.

I remember some families who had old folks or children “who weren’t right” so they were kept in a back room of the house, away from guests. It was always mysterious to know “someone” was back there who the family kept hid. I am so sorry for the thousands who never got help and for the ones who took care of someone who could never be better.

One family used to come visit us and they always brought their little girl. She probably had MS, MD or some such thing. She had to have her head supported when her mother held her and she drooled a lot and waved her arms helplessly about. She was long and nothing but bones…….her poor mother had the total care of her and loved her as if she were a beautiful doll. In short, the mother’s life was taken over by the care the daughter had to have.

I have had many lessons in caring for older people or children and I know it is a gift of love. The ones who give the care for their loved one’s needs don’t begrudge or wish to be rid of the problem. They embrace it and throw their energy and strength to the one who needs it most.

There always comes a time when most of us wear our bodies out before our brain dries up. On the flip side of that we have people whose brain is all messed up but their bodies are in good physical condition. We never know what lies ahead and I think it’s wise to make some choices before someone else makes them for you. We all have different needs, issues, source of enjoyable surroundings and how we would like to be cared for when the day comes we can no longer live in our own homes.

Yesterday I wrote about this in a comical way and that is always my off-beat remedy in dealing with difficult issues. We have all endured mountains of sadness, loss and changes we don’t want, so knowing I’m not the only one, makes it easy to pick up my share of the load and go on.

“Going on“………..those two words are the cure for any pain of mind, soul or body.

Until tomorrow, I am,
Essentially Esther

Wednesday, October 03, 2007


I just came back from visiting a friend in an assisted living complex in the next town. This is the third or fourth time I have been to see her and it is interesting. She is the friend I used to have here for lunch before she came to the place she could no longer manage being at home.

My mother was in the local assisted living place here after several severe strokes and later was moved to prime care. As patients go in these places……there are good days and bad. It’s like being shut off from the real world and your “home town” becomes the folks who live up and down your hall and the ones you eat your meals with in the assigned seating of the dining room.

For my mother and my friend as well, it was/is difficult to be forced around other folks when you prefer being alone. Both lived in their own homes many years after being widowed and having “social hour” 24/7 is not normal to them. Mom and my friend enjoyed reading, watching TV, working cross-word puzzles and writing letters etc;

Both hated being drug out into the recreation room for silly things like sitting in a circle and throwing a beach ball back and forth. Mom did enjoy Bingo, however, because the small rewards were plentiful and everyone usually won something. My friend says it’s the most boring thing she ever did and doesn’t go back.

I have certainly had time to think about my future residence in a facility. I have been widowed twice and so I have no helpmate to see me through a long-term illness. Yes, my children would want to but I refuse letting them handle an old woman when they are just getting to the place they can retreat from some of their early demands in life and have found new freedom.

Have you seen an old woman when she gets up in the morning? It isn’t pretty! I give myself a leisurely start in my day. I feed all the outside cats, each to their personal preference, run Mandy out for her morning run, put the coffee on and turn on Headline News. During one of the commercials I pour my coffee and whatever I’m having for breakfast. Most mornings it’s cereal, toast or waffles dropped in the toaster.

I was always a “scratch” cook. Did every thing they do……and suddenly there is just me. Since there is no big reason to cook anymore I eat very simply. One of the best recipes I’ve come up with is Honey Bunches of Oats with strawberries or peaches, about 5 scoops of vanilla ice-cream and enough Very Vanilla Silk Soy Milk to make the cereal go down. Ambrosia of the Gods!! Some days I even eat it for lunch.

Poor Becky doesn’t know what to make of me anymore. I am not the mother she grew up with. I seem to be digressing to the little girl in me and doing what I want rather than what I should do, always did, and don’t want to do now.

I think it’s safe to say that Esther is gone because I’ve just figured out to enjoy life with abandon. Rules are to be broken, calories are a myth, all the food that is supposed to kill us is actually good for us AND I have selected hearing now. I also forgot how to talk.

“Oh, I’d be glad to fix that for you. Here, let me show you how to do it. Yes, you can bring the children over, I’ll keep them while you go shopping. Be the leader of Cub Scouts????Sure!! Well, I guess I could do Bluebirds too if there is no one else. You’re sick and need things from the store??? Sure…..glad to!! Well, maybe I can hem that for you if you’re in a pinch for time.” Yadda, yadda, yadda. I was Esther to the rescue but now my hearing is 95% GONE.

Just wait until I hit the assisted living circuit……I have a few tricks up my sleeve, yes sireeeeeee…………..

Until next time, I am,
Essentially Esther

Tuesday, October 02, 2007


Well, Becky and I went to the wedding of Rocky’s grand-daughter on Saturday and I wrote about it yesterday. When I went to post it, it disappeared into the cavernous climes of black screen and refused to come out.

Now I’ll admit, for a lady who is usually sweet and caring…….I really built up a head of steam when it left me blank. I had to leave for the afternoon…….so no blog yesterday. Of course I could have written last night but……you know…..football was on and I did feel a little guilty but decided to forget a blog until today. Yes, I gave in to the selfish desire to watch the game.

The computer didn’t shut down properly last night and today I had no icons, favorites or tool bar. Nothing to turn it on with….in desperation I called the Dell Help Line and a recording actually got me back in business. In my past experience with “Help Lines” I never felt helped. However, today I have to admit they got me back on line. I believe in giving credit where credit is due.

Speaking of football, I want to jump up and down that Brett Farve broke the record for most touchdown passes. I have loved Brett for years because there just isn’t anybody who enjoys playing the game like he does. He is Mr. Football to me. Being a Chief’s fan for years and years (and living with dreams unrealized) I adopted Brett just because no matter what…….he’s the best as I see it.

The wedding was very nice. Becky and I drove over for the late afternoon affair which was held in one of the city parks. The wedding took place against a steep bluff of natural rock and stone, greenery growing naturally up and down the edifice, and white Romanesque columns flanking a long platform. Rocky’s grand-daughter wore a traditional white gown with veil, train and a sweeping skirt giving off pretty sparkles in the late sunlight.

She chose black and red for the attendants and the colors were striking with the bride’s white gown. Weddings are always nice because families make an effort to “be there” and a reunion takes place as a union is formed for the bride and groom. So now they begin their journey together and those of us who have been happily married know the joys of a life shared with the person that makes our life complete.

Of course, Rocky was very much on everyone’s minds because it is the first family gathering since his memorial. His presence will always dominate our times together because he loved all of us so much………and because we loved him the same.

Congratulations to the new couple.

Until tomorrow, I am,
Essentially Esther