Monday, July 16, 2012

Close to Home (and Hello Russia!)

Before I get to today's topic, I need to admit something. I do look at how many hits this blog gets, and right now we're closing in on 500. Now a good chunk of them are me checking spelling and doing edits when I need to, but I also look at where the hits come from, and naturally the USA is first, but what really surprised me is that Russia is third on the list. So for all my Russian readers:

                                         Здравствуйте, дорогие друзья!

I hope that my Russian visitors aren't just hackers or porn trollers, but a hit is a hit. There are  people in Eastern Europe with either MS or Bipolar or, lucky them, both.  I'd be interested in how they are coping. 

We're back to 90+ degree weather here in the Great Northeast so I am moving as well as I can in this type of environment, which is verrrrryyy slooowwly.  Air conditioning, fans, the mall and the movies  (This weeks flick:  Salmon Fishing in Yemen).  And using a bit of the air conditioning in the car - my car has over 100000 miles on it and I'm always a little cautious with it.  And gee, this month I'll actually finish paying for the car.

I stayed close to home this week, except for the previous blogged trip to Cooperstown, but I did opt to sit outside for a evening with my kids, er, I mean my former staff from Albany County DSS.  It was a retirement party for Linda, and the whole staff with significant others showed up

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I hope there's a picture up there. Anyway, we had the get together at Philly's in Latham NY, and oddly enough, the place, in its previous incarnation as The Lookout, was where my wife and I had our second date thirty years ago this coming December.

So it  had significance to both my work group, and my home group, and its more that word "home" that I'd like to talk about.  From some of the earlier posts in this series (and you've read them all, right?) it might have become clear that I don't have a great relationship with my family, in that, with the exception of one person, I'm sort of at the maybe you get a holiday card/maybe you don't level.  And that is sad, but it is what it is.  So the people that I've turned to since the diagnosises of bipolar and MS have been work associates, people with similar beliefs, and those that enjoy the written word.  They have become home.  Along with my house.  In the years before I had to retire we'd worked to get the house just like we always wanted it, but then a flood turned everything upside down and, to our surprise, gave us a chance to rip up and lay it down, start over and do it right.  We did.  The house is comfy and welcoming.  The yard is as green as I can make it, and after 20+ years, even that ain't much.  But on a snowy day in February, or during the holidays, there are few places that mean more to me, in fact none.  But in actuality....

My wife is my home.  Where she is, is where I want to be. I've been homeless, lived in a 1976 Chevette with all my clothes, cleaned up where I could, found a cot to sleep on.  And as long as Jackie was with me, it would have been just fine.  Fortunately, she came into my life then. Ain't been homeless since.
The staff I had dinner with last week is home.  We had just 18 months together, but all agree they were the best 18 months of all our careers, though I hope the younger staff gets a chance to do great things, as any proud poppa would want for his children.  For now we get together and I hear the latest in their lives, we trade stories, laugh and raise a glass.  It is good, and I am a fortunate one.

Lansingburgh is home.  Over the last few years I've become the family geneaologist and have studied who we are and where we came from, finding the graves and putting the stories together.  Through Facebook I've gone back to see the 'Burgh through the eyes of those who still live there, and those who once did.  In early August, I'll be having a sit down with some of those folks to honor my sixth grade homeroom teacher.  Yep. She's still around.  I'm looking forward to it. Just from the pictures the Facebook group puts up, I'm already getting an ever deeper appreciation of that place I grew up in and, yes the world moves on and things change, but you keep the spirit within.  For me it's always Summer 1967 and I'm ten years old.  And everything is still possible.

Hey, for those of you who read the Five Keys to Mental Health, you may be seeing some of those keys in place here.  Something to do. Someone to love. Something to look forward to.  Mental health is about strong roots, roots given by family in however you determine it, but having the ability to sway with the winds of time.  When the winds subside, you're still there.  To run a metaphor smack dab into the ground, if your internal house is in a good state of repair, you can weather any storm.

Lyrics from a Billy Joel song:

Home can be the Pennsylvania Turnpike
Indiana's early morning dew
High up in the hills of California
Home is just another word for you.
                          You're My Home

So home is where the heart is, as someone said.  For those of us with extra challenges, sometimes the doors to that home have been closed and locked, and we spend so much of our time banging on the windows begging to be let in that we forget or ignore the open door and warm hearth waiting for us just down the road.

And maybe that open hearth and home are there so that you can welcome another. 

Stop on by, we've got room.

And to my Russian friends -  До свидания!

More stories soon.  And to whoever the 500th hit is on this site, thanks.  If it's me, I'm welcome.

From Lisa at Brass and Ivory

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