Keep it real Wednesday
December 4, 2019
When I was in 2nd grade and living in Pittsburg PA, I was very sick with Scarlet Fever and Rheumatic Fever. I was confined to my bed for weeks with a high fever. Despite being very ill, this period remains one of the most impactful and happy times of my childhood. My grandmother would wheel the small TV into my room every afternoon to watch Mister Rogers and I would smile at the sound of the train entering the kingdom of King Friday. The sound triggered joy, comfort and a knowing that I was loved. Together, my grandmother, mother and Mister Rogers nurtured my body and soul back to health and I fully recovered from Rheumatic Fever with minimal residual effects. The outcome could have much worse.
In 1985, I experienced a devasting loss of someone I loved very much and between us we had many unresolved feelings. The loss shook me to my core, and I wanted nothing more than to pull the covers up over my head and let the world go around without me. However, my mother had other ideas. Every time the phone would ring from a neighbor, friend or family asking how they could help, my mother would respond with “come over and bring something sweet to eat”. From my dark and warm room where I could wrap myself in grief, I could hear the doorbell ring and she would encourage me get up, greet the guest and eat with them. The first visit was the hardest and I cried through the visit and every bite of the sweet treat they brought. But each doorbell ring was a bit easier and we soon began to experience a steady stream of friends in and out of our house. What happened was beautiful. Without a single word or lecture, my mother knew the journey to healing needed to start with others and embracing the ringing of bell.
In August 2018 when we presented Rosemary with her blessing bike, her first instinct was to ring the bell. She rang it with the zest of a child and howled a belly laugh as the sound reverberated in our garage. The sound made her happy, joy filled and alive. In fact, she rang it several times, again and again. When many people first get on the blessing bike, the first thing they reach for is the bell and they too smile and remember. It sure is something to watch.
In being honest with you, there are days when I struggle with my own thoughts and possibly depression if I want to label it that way, because being a caregiver is difficult when the end process to great care is a known death with a date to be determined.
Today, I took a moment to reflect on my life and I realized I have all the tools to help from day to day and it all relates to bells. The sound of the train entering the Kingdom of King Friday reminds me of the love of my mother and grandmother who will always be with me to span the dimension of heaven and earth. The sound of a phone ringing and doorbell brings me to a time when I was at my lowest and friends and family lifted me up. And, now the sound of a bike bell reminds me that that we all strive to find joy, to keep the childlike simple pleasure of ringing a bell alive in us.
Last week in the Boise Holiday Parade we had six blessing bikes all riding in unison ringing our bells together in harmony to crowds of thousands. In beautiful unison we showed the community that the elderly, people with disabilities and those with health barriers have a lot of living to do.
Bells. They are a beautiful thing.