Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Joys ,Regrets and a Great Vacation

Lucky  welcomed us to our son's home in Las Vegas .
        We just recently returned to snowy, cold Armenia from a 4- week vacation which included a glorious week in warm, sunny Costa Rica with son, Chris, and his amazing wife, Dottie.  We returned to the U. S. with them and enjoyed another week in Las Vegas soaking up the nice weather and the warm hospitality offered by Chris, Dottie and new puppy, Lucky.  Getting to see the movies, “Lincoln”,” Les Miserables”, and “The Hobbit” in 3-D were fun, but the best cultural event was attendance at the Las Vegas Philharmonic Orchestras  concert in the Smith Performing Arts Center, a gorgeous new facility recently opened to rave comments in the city.   We’d highly recommend any visitors to Las Vegas to check out the cultural offerings at the Smith Center because they vary widely and appeal to many tastes.   Next on our agenda was a rondevous with Dave’s sister and her husband in Flagstaff, AZ, a lovely mountain town where we’d been before. Though near the Grand Canyon, we chose to be lazy instead of tackling the crowds on a short weekend and just enjoyed being together again.   The 2 Dave’s did take one good hike while E. O. (Ellen) and I visited an intriguing historic house and afterwards enjoyed some shopping.   Then back to Las Vegas for a few days before flying to Nashville to rondevous with daughter, Flora, and proceeding together to visit my 96 year- old father and 3 sisters who live in the area of his home in Clarksville, TN. 
David, daughter Flora and my 96 year old father
            Joys and regrets become evident with family visits after over a year. Joy occurs when everyone is healthy and doing what their lives call for at the present.   Even my father, at 96, continues to live alone, care for his basic needs and keep up with current events as he has done for years.  True, as he always says, “I may not be here when you get back again”, but one must not dwell on that subject for too long. Life is known to offer expected and unexpected turns in our journeys down its path.

It was fun to see my niece’s little girls growing up into beautiful, inquisitive, involved young women with so much potential ahead of them.  Unlike the girls and women of Armenia, Gracie and Livvy have a wide-open field of opportunities to pursue as they mature, and based upon observation, they will go at life whole-heartedly and with confidence. Dave’s sister continues with her life as she approaches her 40th anniversary as a nurse in various roles at Aspen (CO) General Hospital.  Although not planning retirement right away, she is already an icon for the nursing profession as she is the last nurse in her institution to wear her nursing school cap and a white uniform complete with white hose and shoes------no scrubs for E. O.!    As a retired nurse myself, I know how hard she works and how much of herself she gives to her work and her patients. A final joy came as Dave and I visited with an elderly aunt.   Aunt Mary Nola has been our most faithful snail-mail correspondent during Peace Corps service.  She is curious and interested in where we are, what we are doing and seeing, and what we’ll do next.  She relishes and saves all of my letters, postcards, and momentos and showed me the old Compton’s Encyclopedia from which she gained information about Armenia.  I promptly promised to send her more updated reading material which would reflect Armenia as a free and independent Republic, not the country of which she read which was ruled by the Soviet Union. Though affected with arthritis and the care of an ill husband, she laughs and jokes readily and has wonderful stories to tell about her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren of which there are many. She is a joy to know.
 Beautiful snow fall soon after our return to Dilijan
       Regrets occur, too, after such a trip…regrets at not being there to see the new baby born into my nephew’s family, sadness at not being able to attend my sister’s funeral which occurred the week we moved to our site in Dilijan, regrets for not being more helpful to my sisters in the attention they give my father although they seem to be doing fine with the added responsibility of frequent checking on him, grocery shopping and doctor’s appointments on days when they must work. And there are regrets for not having more time with our daughter, for not being able to visit our grandson, for not contacting several people who’ve been such faithful supporters during Dave and my Peace Corps service, and regrets for not being able to tell more people about Peace Corps and its work.  (A humorous regret is that of not buying more peanut butter while in the US.  We thought we had a stable source here in Armenia but voila! we could  not find ANY when we returned to that store and others!)

Small market owner who knows us and greets us every day. She is an example of the joyous people we have met in our town
A few neighborhood children who were glad to see us return to Dilijan
 Joys and regrets are a part of life and they balance each other so that we stay focused on what is most important.  Too much emphasis on regret smothers the positives which inspire joy. Dave and I have a mere 7 months left of our Peace Corps service, a short time considering how long we had wanted to do this and how long the process became to actually become invited Peace Corps trainees.  There is really not time to dwell upon regrets.  Joy greeted us at our doorstep when we returned this week.  2 young neighborhood boys were immediately at our gate asking to help us with our bags and luggage. They were glad to see us and wanted to know about America.  These 2 children as well as countless other neighbors, friends, students and colleagues provide the joy of association with persons from another culture and another country.  We plan to leave Armenia with joy-filled hearts which come from knowing them. We will strive to complete our time in Armenia in such a way that there will not be too many regrets for things we did not or could not do.  Let’s hope we can accomplish that goal.      Judy and Dave