Relative Struggle

The dictionary defines the word STRUGGLE thus:  “To contend resolutely with a task, problem, etc.; strive.”

There’s been a fair amount of low-level, daily struggle with my family’s current health situation.  As I shared last week, my father suffered a stroke on New Year’s Eve.  He’s now in a stroke rehabilitation center beginning his comeback.  My mother is a 20-year stroke survivor, and heavily disabled.  It’s been quite a lot to pick up, between my brother and me.  All aspects of our parents’ lives now rests on us for regular attention and management.

I’ve got an old friend who’s in a similar (but more advanced) family situation.  Last year he took on the role of full-time care-giver to both of his aging and ailing parents.  His dad is now in his “final innings”, as he puts it.  My friend is channeling a massive amount of grace and positive energy as he cares for his parents, and especially his father.   Grace or not though, that effort is sometimes a significant struggle to keep a lid on everything: logistics, planning, operations, and emotions.

All that said of course, it’s true also that these two examples play out over and over by the tens of millions around the world every day.  The experience is at the end, a human experience.  Dealing with life, and struggling with it sometimes.

Being in the thick of it, an apt remark to summarize a way to think and cope goes like this:

IT’S ALL RELATIVE.   Sure it’s cliche, but it’s also quite true.  It’s a tough start to the new year in my family.  Then again, there’s a lot to be thankful for.  And considering how things are around the world, millions of people have to deal with very similar personal situations while living in much more extreme conditions.

What do I mean?

Think of these millions of scenarios playing out around the world, INCLUDING places like the Dadaab Refugee Camp in Kenya.  Or in the midst of the strife in the Central African Republic.  Or Darfur, Sudan. Or war-torn Iraq, Syria, or Afghanistan.  Or rural China, or the hinterlands of India. Millions of people struggling just to stay alive day-to-day, never mind deal with near-universal life circumstances I mentioned earlier.

It’s all relative.  When I think about the situations in any of these places noted above, that helps me cope with own particular struggles.  At the end of the day, it’s just life happening.  And I’ve got it pretty reasonable, all things considered.




Friday Faves, Issue #21

Quite a week. And just like that, it’s time for another edition of Friday Faves.  ENJOY!

Destination of the Week:  Bekasi Timur.  Indonesia.  Ever heard of it?  Me neither.  Until today.

Quote of the Week:  “Get up. Dust off. Gather yourself. And get after it once again.” ~ Jocko Willink

Band of the Week: The Roots. House band for Jimmy Fallon. GREAT fun to watch and listen to.

Meal of the Week: Pancit is DELICIOUS.

Website of the Week:  Medium is a platform that serves up a ton of good content.  Here’s a great sample.


REMINDER:   Your comments are always welcome! LOVE to hear what you have to say, GOOD or otherwise.  If you fancy twitter, you can follow more of the muse via that micro-blogging site:  my handle is @jhludlum ~

Enjoy the weekend!

Marriage is a Choice


My wife, SCL, is a very thoughtful person.  Smart too.  And pretty, well…pretty as well (I was going to say HOT!, but thought better…whoops!)…

We’ve been together ten years, married seven, and have three kids under five (if you’ve read other posts, you might know this already).

The following is a piece she posted a couple days ago.  I couldn’t be more proud of her for this work.  And couldn’t agree more with the belief that marriage is a choice.

And I made the right one when I married this woman.



Stroke, Revisted

My first experience with stroke was as a little boy. My father’s mother, who lived in western New York, had a stroke when she was in her sixties.

That stroke changed grandma’s life. She never went home. She was in a nursing home the rest of her life, until she died many years later. 

What I remember about that time was that we went to visit grandma shortly after the stroke happened. It was winter. There’s a lot of snow in that part of the country in the winter time. My brother and I got to play in the snow a lot.  I got to ride snowmobiles with my cousins. I was about 10 years old at the time. My brother was five. It was fun. 

Then our mother had a stroke when she was just 58. It was a “significant event”, the doctors said. That meant there was a lot of damage. My mom lost pretty well all of her ability to speak, and right arm, hand, and leg were rendered useless. She had to learn how to sign her name with her left hand. Not easy for a righty.

That stroke was a significant event for our father too. He retired a year later to take care my mom full time. That was twenty years ago. Caregiving is hard work. Not how they expected retirement to be, I’m sure.

Stroke came to our family again on New Year’s Eve. It’s our dad’s turn this time. Though also a “significant event” according to the doctors, he doesn’t seems to be as severely effected. At least with his speech. He can talk, though a bit slurred because the left side of his face is still droopy. 

Time will tell if he’s able to use his left arm or hand, or be able to walk again. “Plan for the worst, hope for the best.” That mantra works pretty well in this situation.

The big difference between the first two strokes and this one? The responsibility for everything – care, housing, bills, life management and decisions – is squarely on my brother and me. 

We’re a pretty good team. Complimentary personalities and skills. We’re up to the task. But it won’t be easy. Then again, lots of things in life that are worthwhile are that way. 

Nothing can be more worthwhile than taking care of people that took care of you. That’s another mantra that applies to this situation. And one more for good measure? 


Friday Faves, Issue #20

This here is the first edition of the Friday Faves for 2016. This year’s already started off like a lion.  We’ll see how that plays as the days tick off. Mean time, ENJOY.

Destination of the Week:   Sharjah.  Another one of those emirates that are big wealth, small on geography and population.  Check it out here.

Quote of the Week:  “He that shall persevere to the end shall be saved.” – Matthew. 

Band of the Week: Not a band, but an AMAZING voice.  Indina Menzel.  One of my favorites?  Here.

Meal of the WeekPuerco Pibil.  DELICIOSO!

Website of the Week: So much more than a classic sport from the fifties. So much more for women in so many ways. Check it out here and here too.


REMINDER:   Your comments are always welcome! LOVE to hear what you have to say, GOOD or otherwise.  If you fancy twitter, you can follow more of the muse via that micro-blogging site:  my handle is @jhludlum ~

Enjoy the weekend!