The Full and the Hollow

This poem by Sylvia (Mattingly, my niece) really touched a chord with me. During the past twelve months of pandemic many days have felt sorrowful, burdensome and hollow. I’m so grateful though, that there are days that which are full, full of love, caring, helping. Both kinds of days make up our lives for which we should be thankful. I hope your day if full of brightness and joy.


the full and the hollow

sometimes life leaves you hollow

and in that hollow,

sorrows fall and settle 

like snow…

burdensome

as they deepen…

blowing and drifting 

in empty silence 

across the icy landscape 

of a saddened heart

but…

sometimes life leaves you full

and in that fullness,

joys rise and radiate

like sunshine 

carefree 

as they uplift…

waltzing and fluttering 

to notes of music

across the melodic dance floor 

of a happy heart

and so… 

these opposing forces

abide in us…

completing us…

the yin and the yang…

the full and the hollow

Sylvia L.Mattingly, February 5, 2021

Photo by Pixabay

Another Poem by Sylvia

the same nighttime sky

i’ve watched 

another day go by…

the sun now setting 

in the western sky…

and with it my heart

so deepeningly blue…

are we 

still,

the same me

the same you?

don’t we 

share,

the same earth

the same sky…

the same moon

the same stars

in the same nighttime sky?

don’t we 

want,

the same hope

the same chance…

the same truth

the same peace

in this same lifetime dance?

i’ve watched 

another day go by…

the sun now rising 

in the eastern sky…

and with it my heart

no longer so blue…

together we can be

a new me

a new you

Sylvia L. Mattingly

January 20, 2021

Written before and after today’s Presidential Inauguration, in hopes of the end of such hateful divisiveness and instead, a reunification in this country.

Sylvia’s Haiku

Sylvia Mattingly is my niece and friend. You know her from reading many of her poems on this blog. Syl jumped in with her Haiku which tells exactly who she is, a nature lover.

Sylvia’s Haiku

Lover of nature
I venture through the woodlands
And leave my heart there.

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A Poem

A Poem by Mattie Stepanek

Making Real Sense of the Senses

Our eyes are for looking at things,

But they are also for crying

When we are very happy or very sad.

Our ears are for listening,

But so are our hearts.

Our noses are for smelling food,

But also the wind and the grass and

If we try very hard, butterflies.

Our hands are for feeling,

But also for hugging and touching so gently.

Our mouths and tongues are for tasting,

But also for saying words, like

“I love you” and

“Thank you, God, for all of these things.”

               April 1995

Mattie_Stepanek

A New Hope

A Poem by Mattie Stepanek – May 1999

A New Hope

I need a hope … a new hope.

A hope that reaches for the stars, and

That does not end in violence or war.

A hope that makes peace on our earth, and

That does not create evil in the world. 

A hope that finds cures for all diseases, and 

That does not make people hurt,

In their bodies, in their hearts,

Or most of all, in their spirits.

I need a hope . . . a new hope,

A hope that inspires me to live, and

To make all these things happen,

So that the whole world can have 

A new hope, too. 

mattie_stepanek
Mattie Stepanek

Cats 3

Here We Are in 2018

In these almost ten years of cohabitation, I’m unable to find one photo of Zoe and Elliott together. She has never warmed up to him. He has never learned that she likes her personal space. 

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Monetary Liability

I am not exaggerating when I say that the medical care for the two cats combined is a few thousand dollars. Even though I have all the records and receipts I don’t want to know the actual total. I do recall that Elliott’s heart ultrasound was $350 back in 2008 and that his workup last year for a period of lethargy when I thought he was surely terminal was about the same. He was apparently just faking it since all his tests and exams were normal.

These charges are fair and are part of the deal when we take animals into our lives. The total includes annual exams and vaccinations as well as illnesses. Add to that food, litter, treats, toys, brushes, nail trimmers, bathing (Elliott loves his spa days, Zoe not so much) and laser pointers which are so much fun for cat and human and the investment is not insignificant. This fact is important to know before taking on the responsibility of a pet.

Are They Worth It?    

Absolutely, many times over, but if money is tight this may not be the time to adopt a cat (or other pet). 

Hard Decisions 

To the vets’ chagrin, Elliott has continued to gain weight. None of the counseling, handouts or warnings has worked. Not even four pounds when we adopted him, this week he topped the scales at nearly twenty-two pounds. It wasn’t that I did not understand the instructions or the cardiac condition that made being overweight a risk. I did. I do. But when there are two cats who live together and one is skinny and the other obese it is a dilemma. The only way to limit Elliott’s food is to put the cats into separate living areas and that is next to impossible in this space. So, the decision I have made, right or wrong, is quality over quantity.

Elliott was rescued on a railroad track when he was a kitten. There is no way to know how he got there or how he survived long enough to be saved, but he has been happy for all the years since. 

We are lucky that his murmur has not worsened in spite of the weight. He is a big fat happy boy whose heart is full of love. 

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Number 3 of 4

 

Theme photo in title by Kate Puckett Elliott

 

The Ritz

Recollections of Travel 

One of my favorite places to stay during my travels was the Ritz-Carlton Pentagon City in Arlington, VA just outside Washington, DC. It was right on the Metro (subway) line and even attached to a first rate shopping mall, not that I had much time to shop while working. I was supposed to be at this venue on 9/11/2001, but two days before I canceled my plans for reasons I do not recall. Others who attended that meeting spent several days getting home because all flights were grounded for days. One of my associates got back home to Florida via train. While I would have been in no danger, I am glad I was not so close to the horrendous disasters of that day.

Before you think I’m bragging about staying at the Ritz-Carlton, I will hasten to add I also stayed at Holiday Inns, La Quinta Suites and once at what must have been a truck stop motel in Bluefield, WV. So West Virginians don’t become offended, let me clarify it was many years ago and I know from a current Google search Bluefield has many nice hotels today. I was in Bluefield briefly to observe an eye operation at the Ophthalmic Center of Excellence. Back to the Ritz story. I was attending a conference, I believe it was sponsored by the North American Transplant Coordinators Organization (NATCO), a group to which I belonged. In the middle of the night before the conference was to begin the next day the fire alarm jolted me out of bed. I grabbed my robe and room key and followed the emergency exit lights. Down many flights of stairs, as the alarm continued to scream, I finally arrived at a door that surprisingly led me straight into the kitchen. Several people who appeared to be employees did not seem in a hurry to evacuate, but the sight that will always remain in my mind is chicken and a few other food items scattered about the floor. Pieces of fried chicken and I distinctly remember kicking a piece aside as I made my way to another door opening into the main lobby.

As I looked about the lobby I saw people looking dazed, some women were wearing fur coats, others were tightly clutching purses and a couple of men had brought their luggage down with them. I felt a bit underdressed, but I was proud of the fact I had followed emergency procedures and left valuables in the room, exiting quickly. Never mind I was wearing terry cloth, had a severely broken nail from the stair rail and no shoes. I wish I could tell you what was on fire, but I do not recall. Obviously, it was nothing significant because the firefighters soon allowed us to return to our rooms. I will never know why I did not encounter other guests on all those flights of stairs or why I ended up in the kitchen with the chicken.

Winding Up

It is time to wind up my recollections of business travel. If only I could remember more details, i.e., dates and exact locations, I don’t think I would ever run out of true stories to share. Of course some, because of confidentiality or intellectual property rights cannot be told. During those twenty-plus years, I visited over one-half of the states in the US and went to Canada three or four times.

The Transplant World

In those many cities, I worked with a diverse collection of people. There were transplant professionals, contract specialists, hospital administrators, lawyers, government and military officials and on very rare occasions a patient or family member. It was a humbling experience because each person had personal gifts, amazing intellect, and made contributions that helped to build not only a strong transplant network but a better and safer approach to life-saving procedures.

When I began my own journey in the transplant world, after a few years developing the immediate care centers, I found each day intriguing whether in the office in Louisville or in some distant city. When the first living liver donor transplant was done in the US, I was present at the hospital where the baby girl received part of her Mom’s liver. Years later, they looked me up and I was so privileged to see this young woman, healthy and ready to enter college. Her donor, (mother), was equally as healthy. Contracts were a challenge, but real people were the inspiration.

Kidney transplants from living donors were first performed in the 1950s and it was about eight years before kidneys from deceased (cadaveric) donors were viable. I became involved at the time heart transplants were first reimbursed by Medicare in the 1980s and one by one other solid organs and even double organs, e.g. heart-lung, were successful particularly after the development of anti-rejection drugs. Bone marrow and stem cell transplantation as better matching has been developed between donor and recipient have developed rapidly as well. I will always find transplantation fascinating. I was never in a clinical transplant role, my expertise in this field was administering benefits , contracting for services and third party reimbursement.

If you would like to know more about solid organ transplantation or becoming an organ donor see the United Network of Organ Sharing (UNOS) at https://www.unos.org

Information regarding bone marrow transplants can be obtained through the National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP) at https://bethematch.org which matches patients and donors internationally.

And, here’s a bonus site for those who love technology. The so-called “heart in a box” is a development by TransMedics, Inc. Check it out here to see a video (<3min.) of the device with a cadaveric heart actually beating prior to being transplanted into the recipient. http://www.transmedics.com/wt/page/ocsheart-improve-tx_med

The company has also developed a similar device for lungs and livers which can allow donor organs to be transported further as well as tested and treated prior to transplantation. There is little doubt that these technologies will extend and improve life for many.    http://www.transmedics.com/wt/page/organ_care

The future is truly now. 

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Thank you for following along with me in my Recollections of Travel. 

 

Photos by Pixabay