Stories and Journeys

Summertime celebrations

As I begin to write, I am aware that pain management continues to be an integral part of my daily life. Surgery, epidurals, pain meds, physical therapy, acupuncture, massage therapy, etc. have not changed the reality of pain being part of my daily coping with my lumbar and cervical spine stenosis. Mitigation of pain but not changing its reality. I choose to continue writing. That's what I do! So if you have read this far you have taken the plunge into the river(flow) of life experiences which is Stories and Journeys. I invite you to join me in summertime celebrations this month and next.
Another June 29th arrives. As usual I let the day unfold with nothing planned. Whatever happens, happens. Throughout the day, happy birthday wishes show up in my awareness in a variety of ways. There is email, texts, phone calls, in-house visits. And then as I am starting to get ready for bed, the mother of all happy birthday wishes happens.
It's evening. I draw the shades and turn out the light in the front room my house. Shortly thereafter the door bell starts ringing and ringing and ringing. I start to feel a sense of urgency. I decide to answer it. I open the door to see a Metro Transit route 23 bus parked on the street in front of my house on 46th Ave. Next I see standing at my front door, Mike Murphy, Metro Transit bus driver wanting to wish me a happy birthday. Over the years as someone who sits in the section marked for People With Disabilities and Seniors, I have gotten to know a handful of bus drivers I ride with more often than others. 
The interaction between Mike and me has evolved over many bus rides. We have gotten to know each other's stories and journeys. I know that Mike lives in the Fulton neighborhood. He is a graduate of Southwest High. He knows that I grew up on the north side of Des Moines and that I am a class of 1962 graduate of North High School. I know that Mike was born in 1962.  His birthday is Halloween day. So last year, acting on instinct, I bought him a happy birthday card. I gave it to him the next time I rode with him. 
What  I call my brothers "death day" as opposed to birthday was July 8 of this year. Mike offered his condolences last year when my brother died from an aggressive, fast-acting esophageal cancer. Mike and my brother were both high school wrestlers. My brother at Des Moines North and Mike at Southwest. Speaking of "death days," Mike and I both own burial plots at Lakewood Cemetery. Additionally, he is a member of the Amalgamated Transit Union. I am a union retiree from SEIU Healthcare for Minnesota and Iowa, holding an individual membership in the Minneapolis Regional Retirees Council.
If I could re-live my life, I would be a college-educated Metro Transit transit bus driver, and a Stories and Journeys column writer. I am college educated. I write this column. At this stage of my life, I live vicariously through the bus drivers with whom I ride. I'm aware there is no Metro Transit award for Mike parking his bus in front of my house so he could come to my door to wish me a happy birthday. This is above and beyond. This column in part is me recognizing Mike and all the other Metro Transit bus drivers who are welcoming and genuinely interested in the stories and journeys of the riders they transport.
I'm admitting that I miss fireworks at Powderhorn Park. These days I celebrate Independence day by watching a Capitol Fourth on PBS. Not far from my awareness is the dire warnings from Public Citizen about creeping fascism making its way into our public life. We live in interesting times.
We just hired a community organizer. His name is Grant Stevensen.
So, dear reader, what are your summer celebrations? Tell yourself, tell others or tell me via
THE NEXT GATHERING  OF ELDER VOICES (TELLING OUR STORIES, SHARING OUR JOURNEYS)– It's Friday Aug. 25, 10 to 11:30 a.m. at Turtle Bread (4205-E.34th St.)
In gratitude. Happy 80th Birthday, Dowling Community Garden! 


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