Wednesday, December 30, 2015

At the Dawn of 2016

I'm pensive at this New Year's dawn,
I wish my heart felt light,
It's hard to celebrate and cheer,
When world peace seems out of sight.

I am seventy-one this year,
I'd hoped that I might see,
A new year when I'd really feel,
A sense of revelry!

What joy if only hatred ceased,
And terror stopped its spread,
And each new year brought hope,
And a bright outlook ahead!!

Much of the world is suffering,
Each day, worse than the last,
I wish our resolutions could,
Make all this in the past.

I pray that in this year to come,
Our hearts will overflow,
In love and true compassion,
Towards those who need it so.

May all of us slow down a bit,
In the chaos and the strife,
And stop to breathe and cherish,
The treasures in this life.

Let's start at year's beginning,
To find some joy in every day,
To be a bit more loving,
In our own special way.

Best wishes to all for blessings
and peace in the new year.

Carmen Henesy

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Happy 45th Birthday to My Firstborn, Shawn Edward Smith - December 17, 2015

Very early in the morning of December 17th, 45 years ago, I awoke to find my Concord, Massachusetts world snowy white and the early twinges of labor beginning.

As I headed for the shower, my husband, Ed, was encouraging me to hurry - as the 30 mile drive from our home to Chelsea Naval Hospital was about an hour, even in optimal weather conditions.  Finally, we were on our way and, for some bizarre reason, we brought our collie, Snoopy, with us!

Near the hospital, our car stalled and refused to budge...thankfully, in front of a gas station.  The owner, hearing our tale of woe, loaded us ( minus Snoopy who remained in our car which had been pushed into the gas station lot ) and, with his snow plow at work, drove as fast as he could to the Chelsea ER.  From my arrival onward, everything slowed down.  I was given an epidural - which Shawn seemed to enjoy - because he took his sweet time, arriving late in the evening.  

Shawn, a week old, slept through most of his first Christmas.  He amazed us by sleeping about six hours a night when he was only two months old - so I went back to work night shift as a psych nurse at McLean Hospital in Belmont, Mass.

When he was a toddler, we moved to Tampa, Florida and, after two years there, we headed to Ed's next Air Force assignment in southern California.  Shawn got his wanderlust early in life!

After two years in Fullerton, I moved to San Francisco. Shawn flew down frequently to visit his father, having no qualms at all when I would lament about his flying alone.  At six, he looked at me and commented, "What do you mean, Mom?  The plane is full of people!"

Thankfully, Shawn's dad met Lois who became Shawn's
 "other mother." They celebrated their 25th anniversary several years ago.  I couldn't have asked for a better 
person to be in my son's life.  I remind Ed that I did him a great favor by moving to San Francisco!!!

Ed and Lois when they came for Shawn's high school graduation

Shawn decided to join the Air Force Reserves after finishing a couple of years of junior college.  He looks so young and skinny in this picture.

With his GI Bill money, he returned and got his BS in Electrical Engineering from San Jose State University.  He has continued in the Air Force Reserves, achieving, to date, the rank of Master Sergeant, having been deployed on several occasions, and filling in for months at a time at his home base, Travis, in northern California.  

I am immensely proud of my son ( as I am of my other two sons as well ) but I am most proud of Shawn's being there for his two younger brothers.  They had an absent father from the time they were three and five-years-old and Shawn stepped up to the bar, helping in every way.  At one point, I went through disabling back surgery and he was my lifesaver, shouldering so much responsibility as a junior high school student.  There is no way I can ever repay him or thank him enough.  So much of the men Alex and Jeremy have become is because of their big brother, Shawn.

Shawn is still single but he would make some lady a terrific partner.  He is a fabulous cook, a great dancer, wonderful
with his little niece, Harper, a meticulous housekeeper, astute with money and a great travel planner ( something I like to think I helped inspire ).  

Of course, I admit to a little bias but I like to think he's not a bad looking fellow.  The ladies nowadays say he resembles George Clooney.

With his beautiful sister-in-law, Laura Vukasinovic

Shawn on the left, Alex in the middle, Jeremy on the right - in the birthing room 
shortly before Harper's debut

It doesn't seem possible that nearly a half century has passed since Shawn's arrival in this world.  Thank you, son, for adding so much to my life and for being the fine man you are.  I love you and am so proud to be your mother.

There is an awful lot of white at the temples and in your beard!!!

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Aloha, Beloved Merle - December 10, 2015

At this time of joy and festivity, my heart is filled with such sadness.  I just learned of the death of someone I loved deeply and held in much esteem.  I feel like I knew Merle Endo all of my life but we met only about fifteen or so years 
ago because of forensic nursing as I met so many dear friends.  Our encounters were infrequent - at conferences here and there, once for a day when my cruise ship was docked in Hilo, Hawaii and Merle spent a whole day with Sherry Arndt and myself, and, finally, a wonderful day when we were together in San Francisco for hours, playing tourist, taking dozens of photographs - not nearly enough of each other but, primarily of flowers and bugs, laughing and giggling about whether they could have "forensic value."

From our first meeting, Merle and I formed a close and loving bond.  The internet was our form of communication, especially in later years, with retirement, as we both traveled hither and yon.  

Merle touched the lives of so many people  She was an emergency room nurse at the Hilo Medical Center, then worked for the sexual assault response team of the Hilo Police Department.  She was one of the most caring and compassionate women I ever met.  She had the utmost respect of our colleagues of the International Association of Forensic Nursing.

I was in India from May until October this year, in a household with very poor internet connectability.  I managed only sporadic contact with this dynamic lady who constantly encouraged me to visit Hawaii, luring me with the promise of homemade lilikoi pie.  

When I read condolences on Facebook several days ago, I
was in complete disbelief.  I immediately went to Merle's FB page and scrolled down until I saw her last post to me, dated September 7:

September 7
Upping pain meds. Pain is unbearable, making me scream. Wish we had good permanent orthos on BI. To guard rt hip, now left is almost just as bad. Don't know how my friend Carmen dealt with all her bone problems and still traveled halfway around the world. Love you, Miss Carmen.

I love you, too, sweet angel of a friend.  I hate that you were suffering such terrible pain since the summer.  Your daughter tells me you were only diagnosed about three weeks ago and were to undergo chemo.  I guess the Lord chose not to have you suffer any longer.  

For me, you were the epitome of the aloha spirit.  I will never forget you and I pray that your friends and family will have courage to get through the days ahead.  I am so blessed to have known you.

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