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May you all have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Gifts From the Heart....My Favorites For Giving and Receiving

 

     I was watching the "Today" show, they were discussing gifts from the heart, and then played touching Kohl's Christmas ad.  It shows a young couple in an apartment building, entering an apartment and bringing a live Christmas tree, and a bunch of other decorations and decorating the entire place then sneaking out. A few minutes later an elderly (ouch, probably my age) turned the corner and walked in. Her face lit up as much as that Christmas tree.  Now, that is a special gift!

     It got me to thinking, through the years what were the most special gift I had given and received.  The most special gift I gave was granting my dying husband Dave’s last wish.  The year was 1993 and my dying husband's last wish was a drive. I was thinking, well, I'll take him to Santa Cruz or Monterey for the day. Dave was dying of cancer, and prior to that had had a massive stroke, so he said exactly what he thought, no matter if it was appropriate or not! He was not happy with my plan and said, "No I want to go to Oregon"! Just so you realize, Dave's stroke left him paralyzed on his left side. In addition his mental abilities were strongly diminished. On top of that he was in the last stages of cancer, so this was a huge challenge for me. But, throughout our life together, his favorite thing in the world was to hop in the car and take a road trip, preferably up the California / Oregon Coast. So I thought I could give him one last special gift......the road trip he loved, one last time.

     First, I knew I needed help, so I asked my cousin Linda, from Florida to accompany and help me, and that I would pay her trip expenses.  Bless her heart, she agreed.

     It took a few weeks of detailed planning! Really detailed!!! I used my AAA book and made reservations ahead. I explained our situation to the motels/hotels, that I needed a handicapped room with a view, (the view was the most important)! The owners / Mgmt. that I spoke with were unbelievably nice. Dave loved the Coast and the Redwoods, and so I took on the huge responsibility of this trip! We needed to take all his medicines, his electric cart, etc., rent an overhead carrier, etc. We drove up the California and Oregon's magnificent coasts! We stayed along the Columbia River Gorge, (we had magnificent views) then came home through the Redwood Parks, and south on I-5 through the mountains, back to San Jose. Every single room was perfect. We tried to keep the driving portion down to about 200 miles a day. We had to stay at least two days each place we stopped, so Dave could rest. The proprietors of many places even moved furniture so Dave could enjoy a view from his bed.  We watched movies, brought in food sometimes, but, hard to believe, we also laughed a lot.

     This was really a trip of love and patience. Linda spent a lot of time visiting us from Florida, so we were all very close and comfortable together.  Linda and I shared the driving.  My Son Scott filmed us loading to leave then gave us the video camera, and we made a film “Dave’s Most Excellent Adventure"!  What a time we had! Dave laughed the entire trip.  He pretty much could not tolerate solid food anymore, so we had a cooler for his liquid meals.....BUT, he still wanted to go to nice restaurants so when we did I would order his usual Scotch, before dinner and then a nice meal! He didn't hardly eat or drink (Linda or I would end up with it), BUT, to him it felt like “the old days", and as sick as he was he was so happy!

     We had a combination of weather from beautiful weather, blowing rain storms, (I had bought rain covers just in case) and snow in Bend Oregon!  (I also had bought a snow shovel, which we did use.)

     Our trip lasted three weeks and we arrived home Thanksgiving Day.  Needless to say, we were pooped! I was dreading The Holidays! We always decorated inside and out and entertained constantly.  Normally, I loved the Holidays! This year would be different; I did not have the inner or outer strength to decorate!  We arrived home on Thanksgiving afternoon. Thankfully, we had Thanksgiving dinner, later that day, with my son Dan & his family at their home, it was scrumptious!

     Anyway, we drove up to our home in San Jose, and "lo & behold" the house was all decorated outside. Then we walked in and I yelped in wonder and glee, the entire house was decorated beautifully and perfect!  My son Scott, married and living in his own place, had done it all on his own. He even bought a beautiful tree and it was decorated spectacularly! Not only that, there were presents wrapped under the tree, all my Christmas CD's loaded and playing when we walked in, plates of Christmas cookies & bowls of Christmas candies. He even had the fridge loaded with milk, eggs, etc.  I can't even express how I felt! Scott had given me the most special, thoughtful, loving, generous Christmas gift I have ever received! Dave made everyone that walked in the house watch his movie, "Dave's Most Excellent Adventure" until he died that New Year’s Eve! 

     The greatest gift I ever gave was taking Dave on one last trip, his "adventure", and the greatest gift I ever received was, walking in the door to a beautifully decorated, ready to live in, Holiday home!

     Bottom line, both these gifts, were "gifts from the heart"!  This year, give someone the gift from your heart. Maybe the gift of friendship, kindness or love.  Start somewhere, donate to a charity, give someone living alone a call, and commit a random act of kindness!

Spread the goodness and we all could help change the world!

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Paula Anderson | Reply 08.12.2013 22.07

Karen, I had heard of "Dave's Trip", but I never heard you tell it. Thank you for sharing such a wonderful adventure and story. Merry Christmas to you both ♥

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02.08 | 23:38

I too am an avid fan of Joan. I attended two of her workshops at GATE conferences in CA. She is one of my career inspirations by far. She is AWESOME!

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05.12 | 16:27

I am thoroughly enjoying your blog, Karen! I love your "stream of consciousness" style of writing, as well as your wit and humor. Chuckled & laughed all thru!

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27.10 | 13:35

Thanks Karen. It's always happy to read your "blog". Glad you are feeling better.Sipping time....

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01.10 | 11:06

You Karen (cuz) are and ALWAYS been the JOY in our family! Some of the most wonderful times in my life are because of you and your sons! You are incredible!

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