I have enjoyed reading the comments and emails I’ve received from people reading what I’ve written on my website. Thank you so much. It’s been great for me to write and share them with you. By doing so, I’ve been reliving the experiences. Several people have let me know that they enjoy reading my Lois stories and told me that they are going to try and live by the example she set with me and remember her words of wisdom, attitude of gratitude, and her sense of humor. Thank you for helping me to keep her memory alive. Yes, she was an important person in my life. I know in my heart that Lois was the person that shaped who I became in the later years of my life. She was a great mentor and role model. I met her when I was 37 years old. Her words and influence still have a strong impact on my life.
Recently, I was talking with a friend and I shared something that I still use to this day that Lois told me. One day I was telling her what someone said to me. She told me to go to the mirror, say this is what they said about me, is it true or not. If it’s true… than say is this something I like about myself or something I need to change? If it’s not true… than let it go and don’t obsess or give it more thought, it’s that person’s opinion. Those words have helped me many times over the past 25 or so years since she said them to me. I have shared it with many others. I realized that just because someone says something doesn’t mean it’s true. There are many things about myself that others might not like and they think of it in a different way than I do. I know that there are others of you that have that same feeling.
For example, when I was working and an employee didn’t do a project well and they wanted me to do it for them, and I wouldn’t because it was their job and they needed to learn how to do it. They might have thought I was being a bad boss or mean for not helping them do it, and for making them redo it several times until it was correct. Or, if someone got themselves in a situation due to their own choices, and I wouldn’t bail them out or make the situation the way they wanted. Because then they might not have learned the lesson God wanted them to learn, if I fixed it for them. Or when we discussed a situation and they had options and I wouldn’t make the decision on what they should do. They might think I was mean and didn’t care about them. When in fact, the opposite was true. So, they didn’t like me for it, and I liked myself and so this is where Lois’ saying would come into play. I’ve had so many times I used it. Sometimes, I would find things I needed to work on or change.
Remember the saying, give the man a fish and feed him for a day, or teach the man to fish and feed him for a lifetime. I’ve learned that just because someone says something about me doesn’t mean it’s true. I like that I’m able to let people live their own lives. I can discuss life situations with them, but it’s their choice on how to live their life. The same as me, I discuss life situations with people close to me, we talk about options, then the choice is mine. It makes life more simple. By making our own choices we take responsibility for our actions. I know it’s easier to let other make the decisions, and then when things don’t work out we can blame them. Not have to take responsibility for it. That is not how we learn and grow. If I go to a restaurant and ask someone that I’m eating with what I should order and I listen to them and it tastes bad, I can say it’s their fault I’m not enjoying my meal. I need to be responsible for my decisions and choices and not put the blame on others. I’ve learned I always need to look at the part I play in any situation.
I’m grateful Lois taught me how to make decisions based on the information I had at the time it was needed to be made. About nine months after I met Lois my foot was really hurting and I went to a foot doctor and he told me I needed bunion surgery due to wearing high heels for many years. I asked lots of people whether or not I should have the foot surgery. I knew it would be painful and I wasn’t looking forward to it, but I knew that I should have it. So after I asked about a dozen people, some had that experience, it was about half and half. I made the mistake of telling Lois about it and that I spoke with people about it. She told me to come over and talk with her. So I did. We discussed the pros and cons. As we did, I saw the process of making a decision and it became clear that I needed to go ahead and have the surgery. So I did. As it turns out, the day of my surgery, unexpectedly, Lois’s health took a turn for the worse and she went into a different hospital where she died 17 days later. I had my foot surgery, then after I was home for a few days I had a friend take me to visit Lois. We got a wheelchair at the hospital since I couldn’t walk on my foot yet. It was good to see her and give her a hug and tell her I loved her. It was the last time I saw her alive. You can read about the part where I couldn’t get my foot wet and talked with Lois about that part of our discussion a few stories earlier in my blog.
A few weeks goes by. I’m still on crutches and have my foot in a wooden shoe. My foot is still hurting and I’m not a very happy person. My friend and neighbor Helen says that she will take me to Target to get me out of the house. So we drive to the store and she lets me out in front of the store while she parks the car. I’m standing on the sidewalk and telling God that I don’t like my foot hurting. I want to throw my crutches at the wall and get rid of this wooden shoe and be able to walk without pain. God gave me an immediate reply. Very powerful reply. A minute or so later, a woman wheels herself out of the store in a wheelchair. She wheels over to her car and opens the passenger door while sitting in her wheelchair. She lifts herself into the car and sits sideways on the passenger seat. She folds her wheelchair and puts it behind the seat. She lifts her legs into the car, closes the door, slides across the seat, and drives away. I said okay God some day I will walk without crutches and the wood shoe. Every now and then my foot hurts and I remember to be grateful I can walk, and it’s almost always without pain. The other day I saw someone riding a bicycle. As he passed, I noticed that his right leg was amputated above his knee. I was grateful I have 2 legs. I’m amazed that he could ride the bike and pedal with one leg. I’m not sure I would be able to do that. Gratitude once again.
Since I wrote my last blog about the importance of having legal, medical, and funeral documents prepared, I have thought about other things to write about. Such as the stories above.
I’ve also had several unexpected things occur that I want to share with you. On October 21st, the city clerk’s association for the county I live in and worked in had a meeting and they were honoring my friend Barbara who was retiring as a city clerk after a long time of service. So, I thought it would be great to go celebrate her retirement and see the clerks I haven’t seen since I retired two and a half years ago. So, I made my reservation. I arrive at the lunch and I see Barbara and there is a sign with her name and under it it says Guest of Honor. Next to her is a sign with my name and it says Guest of Honor. I said to her I don’t know why they put a sign and why I would be a guest too. After we got our lunch and the meeting started, boy was I surprised that Leslie, the chapter president, said there are two people they want to honor today. She asked me to come up to the podium and then she told the room of people, which consisted of city clerks and several elected officials from a couple of cities, which totaled about 45 or so people, about me and that I retired and traveled in my camper van. She also told them that I received bad medical news, and that I was donating my retirement money to various fire departments and other organizations. She presented me with a dozen long stem yellow roses. My eyes teared. I was not expecting this. She also announced that the chapter was creating the Carol Landau Educational Scholarship in my honor. It will provide a scholarship for a city clerk to further his or her education. I can’t begin to tell you how honored I felt, my heart was filled with love and I was overcome with emotion. Everyone in the room gave me a standing ovation. I felt so humble. Oh my gosh. What a surprise.
If you have been reading my stories, you know also that I was not able to attend the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta the beginning of October. I did watch parts of it on the computer when they had the webcam or a local television station reporting it live. A week or two before the event I was talking with my friends Mary and Denny who I had the great pleasure to meet and volunteer with in October 2011 and 2012. October 2011 was the first Balloon Fiesta for Mary and Denny, and me. Their camper was parked close to mine, and we got to know each other because we volunteered in the same location, the Balloon Discovery Center, and we all crewed for a balloon pilot. They also gave me a ride to and from the campground to the Discover Center in the afternoons. It began a nice friendship and common bond. Pictures.
We have kept in touch the past 2 or so years. I told them that I was not able to attend this year and we talked about the fun we had and people, etc. I told them that I did get my volunteer jacket that I earned last year, and I asked if there was an extra volunteer shirt if they could get one for me. We didn’t think it was hopeful, since they always run short of them. Mary said she would ask the volunteer coordinator. During the event, I kept in touch with Mary and Denny to see how it was going. A week or so after the event we spoke on the phone and caught up on how it went and what balloons there were both new and repeat ones. Then she asked for my address and said they have some things to send me. I got a box a few days later that touched my heart deeply. The last day of the event Arlene, one of the volunteer coordinators, gave Mary a shirt for me. Somehow, she found one and wanted me to have it. There was also an official Fiesta name tag with my name on it, a volunteer pin, a calendar with balloon pictures, an event program with pictures of all the balloons at the event and several stories, a tote bag, and a little booklet where volunteer coordinators and volunteers wrote personal messages to me. Many people volunteer at the Discovery Center year after year and we get to know each other. I was so touched by the kind words and the fact that they cared enough about me to do this for me.
In the program book, where it talked about the volunteers that help make the Balloon Fiesta possible, there was a short article about Malcom Gonzales who was a Balloon Fiesta volunteer for over 20 years. He had such a warm and giving heart and spirit. He passed away this past summer from cancer. I always enjoyed talking with him and seeing his smiling face at 5:00 a.m. when we got our breakfast, and also during the time I volunteered in the Balloon Discovery Center. I always got my hot cocoa from Malcom before leaving the food tent. We talked for a few minutes before I went out in the cold weather to go crew for my balloon pilot Scott. I feel blessed that I got to know him during my two times at the Balloon Fiesta. He got to the breakfast tent about 3:00 a.m. to make sure that there was coffee, hot cocoa, and other necessary items for those of us that arrived at 5:00 a.m. for breakfast. One of the many memories I have of Malcom is when one morning, during our volunteer time in the Balloon Discovery Center, he gave me a ride in the golf cart to the restroom so I wouldn’t have to walk 10 minutes to it. I didn’t like using the porta potty which was closer. He held my camera and waited for me. When I came out he pointed out the moon in the sky, even though it was daylight, and several of the balloon shapes floated in the sky. While he was waiting for me he had taken a picture of the balloons floating in the sky with the moon in the photo. He always went above and beyond for all of the organizations he was involved in for his charitable work. I know he is missed by everyone that knew him. I found this touching obituary online about Malcom and the person he was and all of his charitable work, please read more about him.
You may have read about my two rides in the Goodyear Blimp in June 2013. I see the blimp flying overhead every now and then and always wave and send Matt, the pilot I had on my rides, a text telling him that I’m waving to him, or whoever is flying. We now have two Goodyear blimps housed in Pompano Beach. The Spirit of Innovation which has been here for years, and now the Spirit of Akron. Akron is going to get a new airship next year and they have to redo the hangar and make it larger for the new airship. Since it’s winter in Ohio, they can’t leave the blimp outside. So, they sent her to south Florida until she is retired. I heard the blimp flying overhead last week and I went out to look and waved of course.
Then about 5 minutes later, I heard the blimp again and went outside thinking I guess they are doing flyovers and are passing by again. Boy was I surprised to see the Spirit of Akron flying overhead. I sent Matt a text and said I saw him flying over and he wrote back asking if I saw 2 blimps. I responded that I did and I sent the 2 different pictures to him. A few weeks ago there was an article in the local newspaper saying that the Akron blimp would be coming down here and how to tell the difference between the 2 blimps. The yellow stripe on the Spirit of Akron is across the middle of the blimp, whereas the Spirit of Innovation has the yellow line on the bottom of the blimp.
A few weeks ago, when I woke up I had an email from Jeff with the Meridian Texas Volunteer Fire Department. They received the four Halligan tools (sort of like a crowbar) and six rolls of fire hose they purchased with the donation I gave their department. They chose to buy blue fire hose rather than white like their other hoses. They said when they use the blue hoses they would know that that was the hoses I donated to them. The hoses arrived on a Thursday. Jeff wrote that Thursday evening they did their drill testing several sections of hose off of their pumper truck and that one of the hoses busted during the pressure test. He said thankfully no one got hurt, and that they have the new hose to take its spot. It could not have been planned any better. As my friend Jean always says, it couldn’t have happened any other way.
I am still adding items to my door poster. It brings joy to me looking at it and seeing people and places that mean so much to me. It’s a great idea that anyone can borrow and adapt to your purpose. In case you are wondering what the large sheet of paper is on the top of the poster, it’s a few rules that I wanted to be sure are followed when the time comes that I am no longer able to communicate my wishes. This is another way I am proactive.
This came about because on the day that the Georgia fire fighters came and met with me, my mom, sister, and Pam, when I gave them the checks and they gave me the helmet, shirts, and photos, most of us were crying happy tears. I found out later that evening, when reviewing this special day with Pam, that during this exchange my mom leaned over and said something to the effect to not let Carol see her cry. I knew that sounded like my mom because other times when I mentioned to her about talking with some friends how sometimes we cry or are sad about what’s happening her comments are something like that doesn’t do you any good. I didn’t grow up in a household where feelings were discussed. I know there are many of us that grew up that way. When I talked with my mom the next day, I explained to her that I want people to be able to talk about their feelings with me. We talk about it, sometimes cry and laugh together, and share our feelings. It is helpful to everyone involved to do this, especially now while I’m alive. So, I wrote my wishes in case the situation arises as time goes on. What’s happening in my life is not a happy thing, it’s sad… mostly for others.
A few people have asked me if I’m scared. Without hesitation I say no, I’m not scared. In 1982, I had an operation where I died and was out of my body for a period of time. I knew I was with God. It was very peaceful. So, no I’m not scared. Once in a while, for a brief second, I might be sad. It’s not because I’m dying, but because I know that it’s difficult for those I’m leaving here that love me. I’m sure it’s difficult for my mom to deal with the fact that I’m dying. She has chosen not to talk about it with me. I’ve tried several times during the past few months to bring up the subject in different conversations about things and she changes the subject. It’s her choice. My choice is to talk about it. I feel it’s important and that it also helps people to deal with death. It’s inevitable. We all experience this with those we love leaving us. Why not talk about it? Say the things you want to while you can.
I can tell you from personal experience it has been very touching to me during this process that I know how much I am loved by so many people in so many ways and that my life has made a difference in others lives. Also, I know by hearing it from so many people that my memory will live on in many ways, for many years. What a true blessing that is not only for me, but for so many others. Don’t be shy… or scared… Don’t wait until it’s too late. Live Life Fully… Share it with others… Give Freely of Yourself. You can make a difference in the life of another person. Here are recent pictures of my door poster, and my rules. I hope you enjoy looking at it. Some of my readers will see their picture, card, stickers, etc.
Other surprises… During the past week or so, I received emails from several people and also firefighters saying they recently saw my story and they told me how much it inspired them and thanked me for helping others. My story, that started earlier this spring, was recently published in the September Firehouse Magazine, the Florida League of Cities Quality City Magazine, and MSN Canada, see links at bottom of this story.
Someone in Toronto, Canada, contacted me telling me she saw my story on the MSN Canada website. They did a story on me and 11 other people who are making a difference in the lives of others. Then I received an email from a Georgia municipal publication asking for permission to use some of my pictures in a story they are writing about me including the Sun Sentinel story. Pam sent me links to a church sermon where the pastor mentioned my name to make the point in his sermon, and also a Salt Lake City newspaper published my story. I called the Pastor at the church and he gave me permission to put a link to his sermon on my website. If you read his sermon, you might get the idea like I did from reading some of the stories he used as examples that he has a good sense of humor.
I feel so humble that my story is having such a positive impact in so many ways. I can’t even tell you how many people all over the country have told me how my story has inspired them or made them think about things differently. Many people have shared my story with others and therefore spreading the message farther that we could have ever imagined. I’m sharing my story and these additional links with you so that you can be aware how one person can make a difference. I had no idea that my story, which was shared locally because I wanted to bring awareness to the needs of volunteer fire departments, would have the impact that it has had, or that it would have been spread as far as it has. The first publication was in early July 2013 and it keeps spreading as others are becoming aware of it. So many of us are making a difference in so many ways. A kind word, handshake, hug, and even opening a door for someone can make such a huge difference in that person’s life. Pass it on, pay it forward. You can make a difference in someone’s life. Most probably, we will never know the impact one of our actions will have for generations to come.
One of my favorite TV shows is NCIS. In last night’s episode, part of the story is where Mr. Gibb, Sr. wanted to go visit a pilot that he had a brief encounter with in the sky during the war many years before. The other pilot was now in a Hospice facility and near the end of his life. Over the years they only corresponded on a couple of occasions. As the story unfolded, more was revealed. It turns out that Mr. Gibbs, Sr. was flying after a mission and was turned around and lost his way back, this other pilot pointed the way showing him how to get back to his home base. Here many years later, while the man was alive he wanted to visit this other pilot to thank him for saving his life. He insisted that Leroy Gibbs, played by my favorite star Mark Harmon, go with him to visit this man, and he did. The pilot that saved this American pilot’s life was a Russian pilot. He felt bad all these years for the life he lead during the war and the people he killed, etc. Now, at the end of his life, he was told by Mr. Gibbs, thank you for saving my life. I want you to meet my son Leroy Jethro Gibbs. If it weren’t for you, I wouldn’t have my son and he does a lot to help people. The words I just wrote are close to what was said in the episode that aired last night. I’m sure that there are many, many, many stories in real life that are similar to the one in this story. And, I would bet that this is a true story.
One of the few remaining things on my bucket list that I have not done yet is going to a taping of NCIS and NCISLA. It would be a dream come true. I haven’t contacted them or taken action to make this dream a reality. I put the dream and my wish into the Universe.
Here are the newest links to stories written about what I’ve been fortunate to be a part of, others are in the Georgia Firefighter story (July 2013).