Why “Feathers and Dimes”?

“He shall cover you with his feathers, and under his wings shall you trust:  his truth shall be your shield and buckler.”

 

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 I sit here on the first day of 2018 and feel vulnerable because I am about to share what is very precious to me…

Many people ask me why I have the name “Feathers and Dimes” for my blog, facebook page, Instagram page, etc..

I am hesitant to answer because I am afraid they will think I’m a bit crazy, a bit of a religious zealot, a bit out there.

But I’m not any of those things-I’m just a person who has noticed some things.

It all started many years ago, about 23 years ago to be exact. At least, that’s when I started to notice. I was a twenty something, living far from home, engaged to be married, starting my adult life. It was my Nana’s birthday, she had died several years earlier from complications of Alzheimer’s Disease, and I was missing her something awful. I was missing my whole family, trying to establish a life for myself in a strange place. Trying to figure out who I was, where I was going, blah, blah, blah.  I was sitting out on my balcony that overlooked the water, reading my Daily Guidepost, a devotional book my mom had sent me to help ease me through this transition…it was a warm summer morning, with an ocean breeze and birds singing and sunlight warming my skin. It was beautiful and perfect, but I was in tears, covered in sadness and just wanting the comfort that I always found in my Nana’s presence.

And then it happened. A beautiful, white feather floated down from the sky and landed right in middle of the page I was reading.

Of course I looked up into the sky to see where it came from. Just blue sky and clouds. I stopped crying and started wondering.

My Nana…is it possible she knew what I was going through? Someone up there knew what I was going through and gave me this gift? I didn’t know, but I knew it was a wonderful coincidence.

Sometime later I spoke with my mom on the phone and told her what happened. I remember very clearly what she said.

“Oh yeah, that happens to me sometimes, but I find dimes.”

I have always felt that I helped my Nana somehow in her last day. In full blown Alzheimer’s, she no longer recognized anyone. She was just a shell of the wonderful, loving person she was. Alzheimer’s Disease stole my grandmother from us and she was “living” in a nursing home, needing full time care. My grandfather faithfully visited her every single day. But she didn’t know him, or any of us, anymore. She didn’t talk or laugh anymore. She was just there, in that awful hospital bed, repetitively crinkling the sheets and blankets in her hand. I had just returned from my junior year in college for the summer and went to visit her. She was moaning and groaning. My grandfather was there and I could see how hard it was for him to see her like that. I told him to go home and I would stay with her. I asked the nurses to check on her because she seemed to be in pain. They couldn’t find anything wrong with her, her vital signs were stable, and she couldn’t speak to tell us what was wrong. I remember how pissed off I was at God that my Nana was living like this. “How unfair, how awful, how unjust are you, God?” All these things I said as I “prayed” for my grandma.

I sat real close to her and laid my head on her shoulder. I whispered in her ear…”It’s Ok, Nana,” I told her. “It’s time. We will be OK. We will miss you, but it’s time for you to go.” I prayed for God to take her, I couldn’t bare this life for her. She deserved so much better.

I stayed with her a while longer and then I left…That night we got the phone call from the nursing home that they thought the end was near. We rushed there but she had already passed…my Nana was gone.

That feather on her birthday was the first of many, many feathers I find in my life. And since that moment when my mom told me she finds dimes, I find dimes also.  Times when I am scared, feel alone, worried. Times when I am celebrating something. Random times when I’m just going about my day.

Here are some examples:

  • My sister and I and my young niece were travelling via Amtrak to New Orleans to attend my oldest brother’s graduation from graduate school. We sat down in the dining car to eat dinner and stuck to the wall was a beautiful white feather.
  • I had just had my 20 week ultrasound with my youngest child, and they had told us he had a marker for Down’s Syndrome. I was an anxious mess. When I opened my front door the following morning, there was a nest of feathers stuck to my welcome mat.
  • I had a job interview that I bombed completely: I mean, I couldn’t have messed it up any more if I tried-I even showed up on the wrong day! Feeling very confused and very bad about myself, I stepped into the elevator and found a feather on the elevator floor. And then the janitor that was in the elevator with me began to sing my favorite hymnal.
  • Speaking of jobs, many years prior to the above incident, I was driving home from a job interview that would mean moving to another state. Talk about plans up in the air! A bird literally flew in my open car window and started fluttering all around, and in the chaos, left many feathers behind.
  • In the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, I watched my youngest, a budding guitarist, marvel at all the rock and roll paraphernalia. I was thinking how happy he looked. And there, in the middle of a huge exhibit, was a little, bright shining light. It was a dime.
  • I was having a particularly difficult day at work-I was near tears but was fighting it. Something caught my eye. There, by my foot underneath the desk, was a shiny, new dime.

I could honestly go on. But for a lot of the feathers and dimes that I have found, I have forgotten some of the stories behind them. I keep them all in two jars on my kitchen windowsill and I keep adding more feathers and more dimes as I find them. I also have them in my car, in my wallet, in my coat pockets. As I find them, I keep them.  I just know that this is more than just coincidence. I know that they are put in my path for a reason. Is it my grandmother, letting me know she is always with me? Is it a guardian angel or angels or guides? I am sometimes sure of it. Sometimes I think it is all part of the greater scheme of things I just don’t understand. Things I am not meant to comprehend. But I know now that when I get one of these “signs”, I don’t try to understand it, or make sense of it, or try to explain it.

I just say, “ I receive this.”

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So now you know. And you may think I’m a bit off my rocker.  And you may judge me. But that’s OK now. I feel this needs to be shared. And I think a lot of people have similar stories and I would love to hear them.

Peace and Love and Feathers and Dimes,

K

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To Be a Nurse…

 

I am a Nurse…

 

I don’t think I ever mentioned that here before.

Today seems like a fitting day because it’s the anniversary of my grandfather’s death and he assisted me tremendously by helping to finance my education. I wouldn’t have been able to do it without his help.  I am so very thankful for that. 

And for him.  And I miss him.  And I know he was very proud of me.

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I graduated from Loyola University in 1994, so that means this May I will have been a nurse for 20 years…

20 years…

My first year out of college I worked on a Medical-Surgical unit.

The past 18 years have been spent in the NICU.  I’ve been blessed in loving what I do.

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In 1997, I wrote an essay for Nurse’s Day.  The theme was “Nurses Have the Courage to Care”.  I was a young, ideological nurse.  But what I wrote, still holds true today.

The Courage to Care

When I was in nursing school, nobody said anything about how hard it would be physically, mentally, and emotionally to be a nurse. No one said anything about the aching back or the sore feet I would have. Nobody told me about how mentally challenged I would be every day and that nothing about my job would ever be routine and, most importantly, they forgot to mention how courageous I would have to be.

Many people ask, “Why would anyone want to be a nurse?” Nurses are, by nature, a caring group of individuals…it is what calls us to this profession. That is the easy part. The hard part is that it
takes a tremendous amount of courage to care for others and give of your self unselfishly and to do what nurses do day after day.

It takes courage to take care of people at their most vulnerable, most human states. It takes courage to face the realities of life, realities that nurses know better than anyone else: that sometimes the world is incredibly unfair, that the human spirit is strong, but sometimes it breaks, and that sometimes, no matter how much high technologic equipment is available, sometimes even babies die.

Nurses are the soldiers at the forefront of it all. We are there when life begins and we are there when it ends. We open our hearts to our patients and their families and they forever become a part of us. We see miracles and heartbreak every day, we are in the middle of it, we are real, we are involved. For our patients, we hear their fears, we feel the struggles, and we can taste their pain. We see the best of human nature and the worst. We save lives every day; we grieve over the losses and triumph over the victories. Sometimes we leave our job in tears yet we still keep coming back. No other profession could ask so much of its participants, but nurses, they give of themselves courageously.

I wish to celebrate all nurses for all their strength to care and the courage to keep giving of themselves to their patients and their profession. And when people ask, “How could nurses do what they do?” The answer is simple: they have the courage to care.  Copyright 1997

 

Thank you Dzia Dzia!  See you on the other side!

 

Peace,

K