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(c) 2013 Trina Lambert

(c) 2013 Trina Lambert

Jogging down toward the light rail station, I encountered a man dragging some sort of baggage behind him. He gave me a look as if he didn’t think he needed to share the sidewalk with someone choosing to jog—as if he were the only one carrying burdens. I ran around him into street, but I thought, buddy, I might not know how it feels to be you, but don’t be so certain it’s that easy to be me, either.

Some days my baggage is a lightweight wheelie suitcase or backpack—some days a full-fledged daypack—and other days, it’s an old-fashioned suitcase I have to switch from one hand to another while struggling to maintain my balance.

That’s why sometimes I dance/run/hike/whatever to remember and other times I do so to forget.

Yeah, my life is just full of rock and roll lyrics—as are the lives of most people—that’s why those songs stick with us.

Lately, I keep encountering links for posts/articles where someone who has depression is describing how people don’t get how he or she feels and then that person goes on to describe how everything others say or do for them demonstrates that.

Well, the same is true of those of us who love depressed people—the depressed people don’t know how we feel either. Do they think we only want them better for our own sakes? Well, not at first and not for a long time, but after awhile it becomes so hard to try to help someone who doesn’t seem to be able to or at least think he or she is able to provide that self-help. Finally we admit that, yeah, we would really love to have the burden of depression lift from them not only for them, but also to lighten our own loads, too.

We are all ultimately responsible for our own happiness—I so get that, but for some of us it seems that to be able to find our own happiness, we will have to give up any illusions that we can help someone who is currently not open to receiving that help. And, if so, we will have to walk or run away to what makes us happy—without that person.

That is the true conundrum of loving someone with depression. How many years can you keep adding to your own baggage without receiving more than a little in return? The money spent on possible solutions, the time spent pursuing those possibilities, and the emotions spent walking along the side of someone plunged into darkness are the price for caring deeply. But sometimes it seems a bit like day trading—you are just at the whims of multiple factors beyond your control and all you can do is pay attention and respond.

I don’t want to keep waking up in between memories and dreams anymore—I’d rather grow young, than cold. Just got to figure out how to switch out my baggage for something a little bit lighter because it’s way past time to head on down the road.

(c) 2012 Sherman Lambert

(c) 2012 Sherman Lambert

My high school employed a stereotypical mean librarian—if you can believe the tales told by my classmates. Nellie looked like our mascot—a bulldog—and you could just imagine her walking down the halls—forcefully, of course—to the rhythm of “Marian the Librarian” without the good looks and amenable personality of Shirley Jones in The Music Man movie. Luckily, I didn’t have much free time in my schedule so I mostly avoided the school library in lieu of the town library where the librarians were more reasonable.

Most libraries have been my refuge, not stale places where the slightest sound brings about censure. From the dark small town library of my earliest years—a cool retreat on hot summer days—to the bright larger town library of my preteen and teen years to the modern, industrial library where I studied almost daily in college, libraries have seemed a pretty good mix of quiet enough yet not so stuffy I couldn’t make a little noise myself. However, the new library is much more of a gathering place. For now the stacks and stacks of books remain, but for how long?

For some the library is like a coffee shop only larger. They ignore the signs about turning off cell phones to walk among the aisles talking—sometimes in volumes louder than normal indoor voices—to invisible listeners in a manner no different than if they were talking in private as is so common pretty much everywhere these days. And when they encounter their friends, they shout across the room, having complete conversations without moving closer together.

In college I went to the library to keep myself from turning to all those pressing problems back in my room—you know, such as toenails that needed to be clipped or posters I should rearrange on the walls or snacks I just had to find—and to limit the distractions from my likely cluttered personal space. Today I go to the library to keep from doing just one more thing here or there (or at least thinking about doing those things), searching out snacks, and feeling distracted from looking at all the clutter at home. Plus, I take pleasure in turning off my cell phone so, for once, no one will contact me.

Oh sure, I enjoy having short conversations with friends I might encounter, but I always try to keep my voice volume not much stronger than as if I were, say, a sports announcer for golfing events. I’m not trying to emulate an auctioneer—everyone does not need to hear every word I say.

Truly, I don’t need to ensconce myself in a tomb-like little room to get myself to focus. In fact, I don’t want to do so. I’ve never really been the sort to take myself away to some study desk—I can study and/or work with a little commotion. After all, I was successful at managing to study in the somewhat social atmosphere of a college library before I became a mom who had to write by the side of wherever my kids were doing activities such as music and sporting lessons and practices. However, I always preferred the more muffled noises from something such as swimming lessons to the loud ki-yaps from the sidelines of taekwondo classes.

Since we live in a new era, both of what is considered proper manners and of how we approach literacy, I’m the one who is going to have to adjust if I still want my library to be a refuge. That’s why, after I plugged in my laptop at a table yesterday, I also plugged in my ear buds and went to the beach, so to speak. The waves on the shore pounded—gently, of course—just enough to cover up for noises from people who are either young enough never to have had the misfortune of being shushed by someone like Nellie or who have buried deeply the somewhat discourteous lessons the Nellies of days gone by were trying to teach about courtesy.

The next time a young man wants to ask me if I have any hand sanitizer or if a couple starts an argument by me or some guy stands nearby shouting into his Bluetooth about nothing in particular, I am turning up the waves. No, I cannot hear you now—la, la, la, la, la.

If I can get to and stay at that beach, I can still also journey anywhere else my mind chooses to go. And that has always been the true magic of libraries.

(c) 2009 Christiana Lambert

(c) 2009 Christiana Lambert

I really hope that in my younger years that I was not as unaware about the elderly as many seem to be. But since I likely was, I beg for forgiveness for how much harder I might have made someone else’s experience when he or she was already living a harder life than mine. Although my mom’s been gone over two years, I guess it really has been three long years since she spent much time outside of her residence—perhaps the treatment of the elderly has changed since then? Still, I am shocked at the callousness directed at my in-laws who are older than either of my parents got to be.

Have people lost quite a bit of patience since the days when my mother needed my care, or, as the primary person charged with watching out for her, was I just that much more focused on her than on the outside world? What I remember is people watching us together and looking as if they were glad someone was there beside someone in such need. Helping her move about was a time-consuming process, but I don’t have memories of people just ignoring us or getting angry because we moved slower than others might have preferred to move. Trust me, if I had experienced people acting that way toward my mama, I would have been furious.

My 88-year-old mother-in-law really wanted to get out to a Colorado Rockies game this season. Not sure that was the wisest plan, but it is what she wanted and, besides, we would be there with her. Though my husband dropped off his mother and me so we wouldn’t have far to walk to the ballpark, we still had to get around once inside. She can walk well with someone else at her side, but she cannot walk quickly. I just felt as if people were looking right through her or trying to push around her. The masses of people took little notice of the frail woman hanging on to my arm—I jokingly suggested she hold out her cane to allow us some space and that always feisty woman followed through on the suggestion! Getting to the elevators—that are supposed to be for certain ticketholders, the elderly, disabled, and families with small children—was quite challenging. After the game she had to wait quite awhile for the elevator that seemed to be full mostly of people who met none of the criteria.

Yet, getting angry at the elderly for being so much slower is even worse than not seeing them. I really question the “hurry up” world we live in when drivers cannot slow down, even for those whose days of need for speed are obviously long gone.

Earlier this year, I took my in-laws to see their doctor. Since they do not have a disabled parking permit for their vehicle, I stopped to drop off them and my son at the entrance of the medical building. Their white heads along with their reliance on my son for balance clearly indicated they needed easy access to the building, yet the driver of the big red truck following closely behind us honked repeatedly at us before racing around at a speed unsafe in any parking lot.

Various family members take turns driving my husband’s father to daily IV infusion appointments—he is over six weeks into the second round of treatments. His condition is such that his body notes every bit of long-term road damage, as well as any new potholes that have sprung up since the trips began in February. We take corners cautiously and slow down for bumps even if we don’t drive under the speed limit on smooth roads. Yesterday, after his daily treatment was over and as his wife was waiting to be moved from the ER to ICU back in the same hospital he visits, I took him home from the longer-than-expected outing. As we were driving along with traffic on a road with a 30 mph limit, a pickup trunk honked and swerved around us, the driver’s face twisted in absolute hatred while his left arm was flipping us off so hard and so frequently I swear he was going to develop carpal tunnel syndrome.

Seriously, what is up with people? Would it matter if it were their own mothers or fathers in front of them? Or will they themselves have to be elderly before they understand that this is no way to treat anyone, let alone those who really cannot move more quickly?

A world that treats its elders with such disrespect is not a world in which any of us should aspire to grow old. Let’s take it upon ourselves to slow down for those who need our patience—but not because one day we want to be treated better but because it’s the right way to treat people, period.

(c) 2011 Christiana Lambert

(c) 2011 Christiana Lambert

Early in the spring when we made plans to take Sherman’s 88-year-old mother to see the Colorado Rockies play for her Mother’s Day gift, we looked for a game day when the weather would suit Goldilocks—you know, not too cold or too hot, but just right. Our choice of Tuesday night June 11—so reasonable sounding when some snow and cool temps made May games so chilly—turned out to be about a week late. That day Denver hit a new record for June 11: 100 degrees.

Ugh, right? Luckily our seats in the shade kept us from roasting. However, they also afforded us a view of smoke that had drifted north from a couple brand new fires north of Colorado Springs. So while we were reasonably comfortable at the game we could see that the drying winds were nobody’s friend, especially for those whose homes were about to go up in flames (as of this writing at least 360 homes are no more).

At least while we were out at the ballgame, the air quality was still OK for older people, such as my mother-in-law, and younger people with asthma, such as my son and me.

Here we go again, I thought. Even before the pervasive campfire smell reached our neighborhoods about an hour north of the still raging destruction, I conceded to taking my running workout inside. Although I distracted myself by carrying a lightweight Playaway “book” that read to me of happenings on a cool and wet shoreline in Great Britain, the changing orange tint of the sky outside reminded me that the heat and dry winds were worsening the battles our neighbors to the south were fighting. This air quality might not be good for me, but at least I can retreat to my own safe home.

Up here in Denver the smoke puts a damper on our outside activities, but where the fires burn, everyday life is changing forever for many, including their animals. My friend who lives on land south of the area says she is playing Dr. Dolittle; in addition to sheltering many more big dogs than usual in her kennel, she is taking care of bunnies, horses, mini-donkeys, llamas, goats, chickens, cats, and salamanders.

So tired of this constant dryness and knowing that our forests and prairies are not safe places for homes. Though forecasters have given out warnings all winter and spring about the fire risks, it’s still hard to face the worst. The arrival of summer is supposed to bring active times outside for people and their animals, but evacuating property is not the sort of activity anyone anticipated with joy—nor is returning to see what is gone.

If the Three Bears’ little cottage in the Woods were here in Colorado, Goldilocks would have to run away as fast as she could—not from bears, but from fire. These wildfires are definitely too hot—oh no, there is nothing just right about them at all.

(c) 2013 Trina Lambert

(c) 2013 Trina Lambert

I am a childless mother—my only kids (twins) turned twenty-one this past Saturday—and that’s OK. (Well, other than how grumpy they were on the day after their birthday celebrations—as my mother-in-law once told my son, if you’re going to take risks, don’t be surprised or complain when you have to live with the aftermath of taking those risks!)

Our parental role these days is to be supportive, but not primary in their lives. As it is with many parents of Millennials, we live the daily dance of figuring out how to be close but not too close and what to do for them still and what to guide them to do for themselves even when they’d rather we continue to do (whatever it is) for them.

(c) 2013 Trina Lambert

(c) 2013 Trina Lambert

In life, while most of us seem to want to have our cake and eat it too, the time comes when we should make our own cakes if we want to eat them—though not on our birthdays! We have to learn to be our own bottom line says Kathleen Nadeau, Ph.D.

While we planned our personal family celebrations around their celebrations, we didn’t really want to be too involved with how they were going to make those celebrations happen. We knew upfront they didn’t want to spend most of their time with us. Plus, we enjoyed the freedom of limiting our involvement.

(c) 2013 Trina Lambert

(c) 2013 Trina Lambert

Our plans included walking to a local lunch spot and buying them their first legal drinks, knowing they had a ride to get them to their next destination. And you’re never too old to do silly—so we made birthday crowns first. (Boy did I appreciate having another mature driver in the house after I returned home from supply shopping to discover the salesclerk had not sent me home with the most important piece for the project—was great to ask someone else to pick that up so I could continue with other preparations.) Also, we gave the kids bubble wands—which helped them to celebrate with our very-much-amused dog.

Other than that moment when the eating/drinking establishment questioned whether it could honor non-21 IDs, despite the birth dates being accurate, we had a great time with the Birthday King and Queen. Was fun to socialize with them as new adults, but when it was over, we were happy to return to our other plans and, presumably, they were happy to go on to their own plans without the old fogies!

(c) 2013 Trina Lambert

(c) 2013 Trina Lambert

We had the requested dirt cake chilling in the fridge but weren’t home to greet them when they arrived—worse for the wear—the next day. We had plans elsewhere, again. Even if the re-entry to close, loving nuclear family was a little rough, we did finally get around to breaking out the 21-candle-salute and singing—twice—once for each kid/new adult. Lunch, cards, (early) presents, goofy celebration supplies, and cake—that was our responsibility.

They’ll have to be responsible for negotiating the tension of health and wellness with figuring out what the line is between having a good time and making that good time not so good, just as we did. That’s just part of becoming your own bottom line—and just one of the really hard things that makes all of us wish we could have our cake and eat it, too, without any repercussions.

(c) 2013 Trina Lambert

(c) 2013 Trina Lambert

We still love them, but we’re glad they have made it to this milestone birthday and can make more of those cake decisions for themselves. But we’ll be with them as we have been since Day 1 (and before) and yet we’ll keep working on the dance steps that will best guide them to becoming sovereign of their own bottom lines—in the long run it’s better to become King or Queen of your own destiny than just to settle for being King or Queen for a Day once a year.

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(c) 2009, Christiana Lambert