Setting The Course

It is graduation day.

University of Colorado – Colorado Springs: Graduation Day, Class of 2002

Deborah, Elizabeth and Tara will be receiving their Bachelor of Science degrees, Deborah and Tara in Biology and Elizabeth in Chemistry. Instead of participating in the ceremony, it is a day of final preparations for the start of their riding season in a few days. It consists of the necessary certifications of health and vaccination by Dr. Burrell, our horse veterinarian.

Dr. Burrell conducting an oral exam while Dr. Diehl holds Brie’s tongue

It is a day of mixed emotions. There is a greater sense of excitement. It is also a recognition our daughters have taken another step forward in their personal journeys.

It is their day to be recognized and celebrated. While they have achieved much, so much lays ahead.

Counting Days

Their excitement is palpable. It flashes in their eyes. It is heard in their voices. It is in their smiles.

prepping for finals: Deborah studying to the end

With graduation days away, my daughters have been asked what they plan to do next. More school? More riding? We, the parents, have been asked too about their future plans. Our response has been whatever the girls want to do, we’ll be comfortable with their choice. The girls, too, have replied with little specificity.

They do have career ideas away from the show ring. One of the side lessons from Trish and Mark is to have those plans ready, have the education to support those plans, and have the determination to carry them through. “If there is a career-ending, riding injury to either you or your horse, you need that plan. If your talent has plateaued, you need that plan. Most of all, do what you love.” It is not much different from riding.

the meditative Elizabeth: unwinding after a Grand Prix win in SoCal (Jun 2016)

They do have plans in which they will continue with their horses. They have made the forever commitment, and will honor their word to the fullest. They are horsewomen in every sense.

The degrees they have earned – Deborah and Tara in Biology, Elizabeth in Chemistry – will take them far, whether into their chosen fields or into allied disciplines. Or, maybe something completely different.

in the laboratory: Tara, performing an enzyme experiment, for her biochem lab course (Feb 2017)

Deborah, Elizabeth and Tara, they will be whatever they want to be in every sense too.

Easy Like Sunday

“As they stood there puzzled about this, two men in brilliant clothes suddenly appeared by their side. Terrified, the women bowed their heads to the ground. But, the two said to them, ‘Why look among the dead for someone who is alive? He is not here; he has risen.’ ” (Luke 24: 4-6, The New Jerusalem Bible)

Through His resurrection, He made all things new and He made all things possible.
May your Easter be blessed and holy.

Happy Birthday Susie and Pinky!

It seems not long ago Miss Susie and Miss Pinky, and their littermates were born. They began their lives in rather humble and difficult surroundings. Through kindness, and a little good fortune, they made their way into feline rescue. “The rest,” it is said, “is history.”

Becoming six, Susie and Pinky, are lots of fun. They are loving and loyal.

favorite chair and perch: Miss Pinky

baby quilt time: Miss Susie

the sunny side: Miss Susie

watching for cats: Miss Pinky

suncatching: Miss Pinky

suncatching: Miss Susie

 

Happy Birthday Susie and Pinky!

xoxo

One

While much has changed in a year, much has remained the same. The everydayness of life has continued on – working hard, relaxing, a little playing, laughing. She, herself, would admit 2016 was a difficult year. “Yet, you cannot let these instances govern your life,” she would undoubtedly say.

It is exactly one year since my mom passed away. The last few days of her life were long and hard. Simply, you knew her time was very, very short. Only she knew when was when. Both Laurie and Andrea, after long hours at work, would stop by for nearly 30-45 minutes to visit with her and dad.  A little worry had crept into their voices. It was expected since we were talking family.

With her concerns increasing, Laurie consulted with her geriatrics professor from medical school. His advice was sound, “you’re doing well by keeping her comfortable much as possible.” Laurie wished she could do more. When her and Andrea asked if she was okay, mom would always reply, “Yes, I’m okay. I feel fine.” We were pretty sure she was trying to allay our worries and concerns.

In the year since, it has taken some time to adjust. We’ve had our moments when we said, “make a mental note and tell mom later.” Or, the girls saying, “we need to call grandma and tell her what happened.” Then, in a flash, we remember. Moreover, we are glad mom’s passing seems not to have affected dad a great deal. If it has, he’s not telling but we know he misses her much.

While our counting of days phase is largely behind us, mom would be very glad that we have remembered her. Hopefully, she won’t ask if we learned anything from the counting.

Love you, miss you.
xo

Washington: Enduring Wisdom

“[No man has the] right to mislead others, who have less access to history, and less leisure to study it. . . . Thus substituting falsehood and deception for truthful evidence and fair argument.”

 – Abraham Lincoln, “Cooper Union Address,” 1860

Gilbert Stuart “Lansdowne” portrait
image courtesy of Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery

In his farewell address to the nation, George Washington warned against faction (better known as partisanship) and sectionalism. Dividing into factions and sections, while natural, would tear at the political fabric of America. A populist would use those divisions to deprive the people of their power and place it in the hands of a few, unjust men. Further, it would undermine the common ground needed in which we can agree on those principles and matters that unite us as a people and a nation.

This mattered to Washington: We are a nation that is more than an idea, more than a dream, but where all things become possible. For this to be realized, her people must stand fast against the internal divisions and foreign meddling that would naturally follow. It would require her people to be aware and engaged. Failing to do so, we fail ourselves and we fail our nation.

A  little more than eighty years later, America was facing her greatest test as the nation divided along the factional and sectional lines. The institution of slavery had become so pernicious, the constitutional process was becoming inconsequential. In his address at Cooper Union, Abraham Lincoln plainly stated [people] will destroy the Government, unless you be allowed to construe and enforce the Constitution as you please, on all points in dispute between you and us. You will rule or ruin in all events.”

Though a devastating civil war ensued, had Lincoln failed to state his case at Cooper Union, America would have become the failed experiment in self-governance. America would fracture along the factional and sectional lines Washington had warned many years before.

In the here and now, many have their own interpretation of America – choosing to believe what they want to believe and dismissing the rest as romanticized nonsense. They choose to believe America was never about an idea, was never about a dream. It is contrary to what every founding father believed what America was and could be, and they believed it regardless of their personal politics. Washington was content to serve one term as president. Democratic-Republican Jefferson and Federalist Madison made a joint appeal to Washington, asking him to serve a second term. They believed if there was no second term, America would die in her infancy.

Shortly after the inauguration a few weeks ago, actor Sam Waterston, penned an opinion editorial in which he rightly notes how lying has become a daily constancy and danger. “The great issue of today is lying — constant lying in public. Lying is the ally of faction … it is the greater danger. Yes, the word is lying — not negotiation, salesmanship, bluster, attention-getting, delusion, deception, braggadocio, exaggeration, bullying, alternative facts, or any other euphemism.”

Waterston warned of the corrosive nature of lying: “… the frequency of his lying, Trump has revealed a truth we have avoided confronting: Like partisanship, regular and habitual lying is an existential threat to us, to our institutions, our memories, our understanding of now and of the future, to the great American democratic experiment, … It blurs the truth, subverts trust, interferes with thought, and destroys clarity. It drives us to distraction.”

Washington’s warning, advice and wisdom in his farewell address remains relevant today as it did in 1797. Lincoln’s Cooper Union address remains relevant today as it did in 1860.

It becomes a matter of our willingness to listen and heed the wisdom.

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Remembering

By Lauren Westin, MD

Sitting at my desk late last night, tying off the loose ends of the day’s work, it dawned on me it has been two years. It seems like yesterday when David called early that morning saying we needed to talk, and not over the phone. Yet, it does seem to have happened long ago.

In the hectic of Friday’s “everyday busy”, not a thought of mom came to mind – not even the anniversary of her passing. I know she would say it’s time to set it aside. “No more sadness.” Instead, concentrate on your family, concentrate on your patients. She would not expect any less. However, I felt bad at that moment last night. I should have remembered earlier, but I didn’t. Both Andrea and David said I shouldn’t beat myself up over this. They’re right, but I did.

from the one

Tara called her grandpa early this morning and they chatted awhile before heading out to ride with Deborah and Elizabeth. Afterwards, I talked with dad. He said it was okay. Mom is imprinted on all of us, in our thoughts, our deeds and our words. Staying true to your values is remembering and honoring mom to the highest degree.

It was the reaffirmation I needed.

Love you, mom.

Laurie
xo

About the author

Lauren Westin is a practicing trauma surgeon with University of Colorado Health, and an Associate Professor of Medicine at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. She holds certifications in trauma surgery, trauma medicine and microsurgery.