Sunday, March 25, 2018

healing?

Three weeks later.

I still feel fractured.

I'm sure I will for a long time.  I am not crying as much.  Simply at the most inopportune times, like 30 minutes before giving an interview for a local news station.

I am watching all of my precious flowers fade.  Ironically at the time they simply made me realize what I'd lost, now I don't want them gone. I was awake in the middle of the night, pretty sure I slept too much yesterday, but at 1 am, I decided to adult. 

Part of that adulting was tidying up my remaining flowers, there are still a few lilies that are sharp and bright white, and those beautiful purple carnations are still brilliant and strong against the deep green background that remains. As I was cleaning up the lilies, I noticed that one part of the greenery appears to be growing.  I don't know what it is, but the pale spring green leaves against the deeper green of the mature spikes seems to be growing.  I'm afraid to hope that it might be setting roots, that maybe I can plant it and save a bit of these precious bouquets.  Time will tell.



At some point today, I am going to find a spot to put the planters that were sent to me in the windows.  I will just have to do some rearranging. I am terrified of killing the beautiful tropical ones.  I am not the greatest at remembering things like water. And when I do, I might put too much.  We'll see.   The past few years living things have not wanted to be part of my world.  All attempts at container gardening have failed... FYI...

When I gave up on sleeping, instead of lying there dreading that 5 am Sunday morning would come, I got up.  I'm still not a fan of Sunday morning anymore, I hate that it signifies another week has passed, while trying to celebrate that he's whole and in glory.  Yes I know that day will come, I am just not good at waiting.

In an effort to distract myself, I started laundry, folded dry laundry, washed dishes and swept floors.  Anything that I could do quietly while Hubs slept. I even started piecing together an order for soap making supplies.  I've been enjoying it again lately, and felt a strong need to make soap.  I am going to look through my bins and see what supplies I still have today.  I am also considering making my own bath bombs.  They are my current obsession - and I love my garden tub - what I don't like are the prices for the fabulous bombs at LUSH. I'm sure I can make my own and save a huge amount of money.

The battle outside that early spring and late winter are waging is sort of a perfect reflection of how I feel inside.  The delicate hope for the future can be seen in the beautiful bright green mosses and buds on the honeysuckle branches.  They are fighting for their right to exist. The buds on the Bradbury Pear tree out front are bright red.  They want to be seen.  And the birds are chirping and singing, calling for mates, ready to bask in the warmth of the coming season with the family they will soon start. The fat little squirrels are starting to scavenge the trees for food.


But winter is still a bitter old shrew, she isn't ready to give up.  The rain drops are just this side of being snow and ice.  The temperatures are still being held cold by those sharp, biting winds that she keeps sending over us.  The same winds that are tearing those sweet buds from their branches and snapping those branches from their trees. Winter is fighting back, she isn't ready to yield.

I feel that way inside.  My grief and anger are not ready to subside.  I wasn't ready to lose my Dad, I am not all together sure it was God's plan, until the end.  I am bitter and cold inside.  I want to lash out at those I feel are responsible, and yet feel inadequate to do so. I feel like I've been robbed and it makes me angry.

And at the same time, every time I see a cardinal, or a memory long forgotten sneaks in to melt the ice, I feel my Dad's presence.  When I am lacking the strength that I need to move forward even a bit, I hear his voice. I feel normal, or at least my new normal, sneaking in. I wrap myself up in the love I have for him and that I know he had/has for me and I feel the thawing starting.  I'm finding a bit more energy for normal.  A few less overwhelming moments.  Spring will come.

In fact I am feeling the urge to adult today.  To put on some music and tackle life.  Not all of it at once, but definitely some of it. 

Saturday, March 24, 2018

unadulting...

I opted out of today.

I've slept, I've soaked, I've lounged.

I definitely haven't adulted.

There are still piles of laundry.  There is dog debris (thanks Neeko) everywhere from slaughtered toys. Dishes - sink is full of them.  Cooking, no thanks, have a cookie - no cookie - is starving an option?

It's been a rough start to the year. The stress has been unimaginable, the loss unfathomable.  I haven't processed it all.  I am not ready to.

I know that I've been pushing too hard, I've felt it. I'm also rational enough to know that sometimes, there simply aren't options.  The past few weeks, no months, there has not been an option.

Today.  Today I decided had to be that day.

I'm trying to get back to where I want to be.  And I'm simply not there.  I needed to take my car to the shop.  I decided to rest instead.  I'll stress about it later this week. I know I have to do it before the weekend.  I'll take care of it.

I'm starting to feel like the human race - at least in this country is doing just that, we are racing.  I feel like we have become little machines incapable of just stopping for a moment.  There is at least one if not more generations that have forgotten the fine art of balance.

I'm guilty.

I stop to call family and friends on my commute to and from work and appointments.  Not because I don't love them, but because I do.

In exhaustion last night, after a marathon day that started with shopping at 4 am and ended after cleaning up from Trivia at 11 pm, I called my daughter.  I knew she was awake as she was sending me pictures of my youngest grand baby being silly. Unrolling toilet paper, laying on mom, demanding Mom's attention.  I know it stresses her occasionally, I pray she also understands how precious this time is. We chatted until almost midnight.  It felt wonderful.  I felt connected.

I need to do a little better at the work, life, balance thing.  I think I am working so much to avoid life right now.  But I don't think it's healthy at all.

As I typed those words, I paused and looked out the window, the dreariness of the day is like a magnet. And there on a branch near my window looking in was a pretty cardinal.  Beautiful in all of it's brilliant red.  Simply looking in at me.  He flew off rather quickly so I didn't get a picture, it always seems as if they don't want me to. I wonder if it was Dad's way of confirming my thoughts?

I'm trying to find my center again.  I'm not.  The roller coaster is making me insane.  I find tears leaking out at the most inopportune times. And laughter is hard.  I wasn't raised that you must wear black, but anything else feels... wrong.  Now lets preface that with the fact that I love black, it looks great with my skin and hair and I have closet full.  But, putting on anything else with it. It's not working for me right now. Black, gray, navy.  The calm, deep restfulness, feels like what my soul needs right now.



And as I'm sorting through it all, doesn't it figure that mother nature has decided to start bringing out her colors.  I don't want to play.  Not right now.  Maybe later.

Monday, March 19, 2018

should be further on by now....

I'm working on normal.

I'm not sure I am reaching success, but I am working on it.

Yesterday was supposed to be the day off to complete my chores.  To finally catch up on my so called life.

I didn't make much progress.  Hubs wasn't doing much better.  In fact together we might be a happening mess.

We finally have groceries in the house.  I considered that a HUGE accomplishment.  Although we did forget coffee and will definitely have to get that in the next day or so. Neither of us functions well without it. And it did take us most of the day to accomplish it, seems even with a list we barely felt the urgency in the moment. 

I was laughing as we strolled through Costco for a few of our household items that we use a lot of.  It made me think of my Dad.  He always had a thing about the house being stocked enough for the end of days.  He did not like bare or semi-bare cupboards.  Mom will probably not need groceries, except the basics, for months. Hubs and I are the same way.  I'd like to think it comes from taking care of large families, but I have a feeling it's a hoarder warning sign.

I remember walking the old commissary in Ramstein, Germany with Dad and his testing us girls.  How much do you think we are spending?  We'd all place our bets, I don't know that there was a prize, but it sure taught me some good estimating skills.  Raising a family of six on a military paycheck did not often leave much extra.  Although, until I was a young military wife myself, I didn't realize that.  Mom and Dad truly worked hard to make us feel rich.

I struggled through most of yesterday.  A moment of joy wrapped up in moments of tears.  This new dance is exhausting! I keep looking for the bright lining.  There's got to be one, I am an eternal optimist. I don't believe in there not being a silver lining to every cloud.  I'm struggling to find the silver. And I am getting so tired.

I asked Hubs yesterday, why it was that even though I didn't see or speak to my Dad every day that now I can't go a minute or two without thinking about him. Hubs lost his Dad just about 35 years ago.  I don't know that he really had an answer for me.  Just held me and told me it was probably because of the fact that I always knew before I could pick up a phone and he'd be there. And now my heart knows that it isn't going to happen.

I guess that pretty much sums it up. 

I'm trying to take this step in my life and move forward.  To learn the lessons available and to step up and move forward.

And backwards.

I'm trying to put my phone down more, for weeks I have been losing myself in motivational quotes to help heal the wounds and stupid mindless games to dull what isn't ready to heal.

The act of truly living has felt obscene and foreign, I simply did not want to participate.

Yesterday, I started trying to live again. 

It's going to be a slow process.

I bought groceries - and I cooked with them.  I even have dinner cooking in my RockCrok.  Seems I might have missed St. Patrick's Day... better late than never... corned beef and cabbage will be served tonight. 

I cleaned up the flowers that have been dying and shedding on my kitchen island.  I kept the ones that are still blooming and I am considering drying the ones from Hubs.  I am making baby steps to normal.  I almost kept them, dead and dying.  I didn't want to walk away from the link to the memory.  Then I decided that was plain silly and my Dad would think I'd lost my mind.  So for the people that sent plants - thank you!  The flowers are beautiful, but the plants will stay with me.  Lesson to self... send the plant.  I remember my aunt keeping the pussy willows from Grammies arrangements, she was going to try to grow from them.  I don't know if she succeeded or not, but at least now I understand.


I actually transplanted another plant, one the "b's" got me years ago.  I think it was a bosses day present, I can't remember.  I just know it was given in love.  That 'little' plant is on it's third container and honestly if it gets any bigger will need a new home, as it is outgrowing my ceilings.  I was going to take care of another one, but I ran out of dirt and frankly there was no will power to go and face humanity to buy more. 

It can wait for the next grown up day.


Hubs knows I am a nut about colored pens and markers, they simply make me happy.  I might have a problem.  And he feeds it.  My nice new stack of pens encouraged me to finally write the notes that have needed writing for two weeks.  The cards had been sitting there mocking me.  I just couldn't bring myself to sit down and write.  Again, facing that made things real.  I wasn't ready for real.

Sitting at the island pouring out my heart in those notes to people who's kindness has made the difference in my sanity over the past few weeks, felt healing.  I'm still a few notes of a song, a glimpse of a memory or a familiar scent away from tears, but it feels less bitter. 

It felt good to actually write.  To watch the soft loops of a written word form. (By the way, did you know that schools were not teaching writing anymore?  What is this madness?) The fluid letters forming beautiful sentences. All wrapped up in the beautiful colors of ink that he gifted me with.


The laundry never happened, the floors didn't get vacuumed, ironing - well of course it could wait. 

I wanted to sew, but my heart wasn't ready for that.  The last time I talked to my Dad was in my sewing room, on Facebook messenger, that was the last conversation we would have "face to face".  I'm not ready to face that.  Maybe that can wait for next weekend.

This is going to be a busy, up hill battle kind of week.  I'm actually looking forward to it. I need the distraction and the direction.  I'm struggling to pull my brain back to full steam.  I know I need to, I'm just struggling with it.

"Oh you make it look so easy, that doesn't seem quite fair, baby I'm still trying to get myself up and flying..." thanks Reba... this is where I am right now... but I am trying...

Sunday, March 18, 2018

dripping in butter...

Lobster.

It's funny the things that connect us, the links to long forgotten memories.  And the calm and peace it can bring to you.

I am not a lobster fan.  I'm not sure why, it's just not a favorite.  I can eat scallops until I am sick, I love them, but lobster, not so much. 

My oldest grand daughter on the other hand.  I'm not sure she's ever met a type of seafood that she hates, but she LOVES lobster. She's only 11, but she's been a seafood fiend for years now.  I remember Hubs and I celebrating the 4th of July with her about 4 years ago, at her favorite Chinese buffet, as she said... "I need my white fish".

My Dad loved seafood also.  Especially lobster.

Last night the girls were back from their spring break and we finally got to celebrate my girl's birthday.  We let them pick the place, knowing that sweet grand daughter was going to vote for Outback - and lobster.

Without a moment's hesitation my girl ordered her baby two lobster tails, I was actually ordering a lobster tail with mine because I know how much she loves them, and I know that I won't eat it. So the sweetie ended up with three.  My girl loves lobster too, but she always hands it over to the grand daughter.  Never a moment's hesitation.

The love of a parent and the bonding over lobster gave me the first moment of peace that I have truly felt in two weeks.  I remember long ago my Daddy walking away from an amazing lobster dinner in Charleston, because even though I had asked them to not put any raw oysters on my plate, they did.  I was turning green, I simply couldn't handle it, and even though he really wanted that fresh lobster dinner we walked out and went somewhere else.

I have felt guilty about that for years. 

But sitting there last night, watching the love my daughter showed her baby girl, I finally understood.  Daddy wanted that dinner, but he wanted me happy far more.

It's been two weeks today and the skies aren't bright and beautiful like they were that beautiful moment God called him home.  They are still gray and cold.  I think I am developing a mental block.  I seem to do that.  When something is too much I block it out.

I remember all of the details of my Grammie's death, the call, the flights, my arrival, the pain of seeing her at the funeral home - first time I'd ever experienced that - but I can't tell you the day or year.  I just know it left a gap in my heart.  I still have the fabric I bought to make a quilt, it made me think of her for some strange reason.  It still sits on the shelf in my sewing room.  I will probably never make a quilt with it. 

I want to.

I can't.

My son-in-law passed a few years ago.  Again I can describe the night, the actions, the emotions, the moments before and after.  Pretty sure he was the one that pushed me down the stairs that night, the cause of our delay to my daughters house, made us late enough that we were there when she got the news.  I am fairly positive it is the 10th or 11th of September, but the year has left me.  And I am sure the date would too if it wasn't near that fateful day in September.  We didn't have a funeral his mother had his body flow home to Washington.  Saying good bye was not the same.  And yet I still can't remember it.

It's only been two weeks, but I found myself struggling to remember the date last night.  I drifted to sleep not remembering, but trying so hard to do so.  I had to look at a calendar, I had to actually look.  It's been two weeks.  I am sure that I am pushing it aside.  I am sure that my heart and head want to forget that date.

I am doing something different this time.  I didn't look at pictures of Grammie for years, I couldn't. I still struggle.  I didn't talk about any of it, of who she was and what she meant to me.  I just shoved it away.  If I didn't face it, it hadn't happened.

I've grown up. 

I'm sure my Daddy is up there smiling down, knowing he helped shape 4 amazing daughters, knowing that he impacted many lives, and I am positive that he is eating lobster.  He's healthy and happy again, he's probably off fishing or maybe driving a big ol' truck.  Maybe in heaven he's had the chance to make peace with his father.  And I know he's loving on those silly bull dogs of his.  I am positive that he and Grammie are together.


I know that the wait for us to join him for us will be long, we will hurt and miss him.  For him, it will move quickly, it will seem but a moment. 

I guess it sounds silly to say that, but I truly feel it. I feel calm in my heart knowing that he is at peace.  I sat and shared memories with Hubs this morning.  The bits and pieces that I could remember, the parts that I am not sure if they are truth or simply family lore. 

I am framing a picture he sent me years ago, from his youth, with all but one of his siblings.  He looks so handsome in it. It fills my heart with love.

I am talking about my memories.

Watching my grand daughter munch on that lobster last night, dripping with butter and smiling in joy.  I could see my Daddy.  That link to my past.  Just as she and I shared pictures of us with our Dads last night.  Knowing they were together again in heaven.

The links are strong. The past, present and future intertwine and move in such a fluid motion. 

Cherish those moments...

Saturday, March 17, 2018

fading...

All of my beautiful bittersweet flowers are starting to fade.  Each day I snap a picture of what remains, needing to hold on to beauty and memories just a bit longer.  

Two weeks ago today, my Momma sent us the last picture we will ever have of Daddy still with us.  We might still be in denial, but I think all of us looking at that picture knew that he was fading.  Just like my beautiful flowers are now. 

I don't know that I am getting stronger, I am finding moments each day when it takes sheer will power to face it.  Yesterday morning was horrific.  I didn't have the energy or passion for life to even get ready.  I didn't want to face anything else.  I couldn't. 

I did. 

 Through the strength loaned to me by family and friends, I found my groove.  I also admit to a lot of sheer bullheaded determination.  That trait runs deep in the family genes, thank you Lord. 

The box to send some of Daddy's ashes to Artful Ashes arrive in Arkansas yesterday (goodness talk about aliteration).  My sister will take it to the funeral home, I will fill out the paperwork and we will send it all back to get our globes and hearts made. They are so beautiful and seem such a fitting tribute to the man that gave so much for us.  Each of us picked a color of significance to us.  Mine will be brown, amber and gold.  It reminds me of his eyes.  

Today will find me going to work here shortly, I feel a bit more equiped to deal with the day for some reason.  I slept in, shutting down the alarm and resting until I had enough.  I don't often do that, but one of my "b's" is there at work to be me for a few.  I needed it.  Yesterday took all I had to give. 

I'm struggling with my fibro starting to react to the stress, so I know that I need to refocus a bit, shift gears. I'm needing to re-center, the problem is I don't really know how.  Each day feels a bit more of normalacy sneaking in.  It's only when I think about what has occurred that I feel the sharp pain. It's not even localized it spreads through out my entire being.  Those that have lost a loved one reassure me that this dims.  Part of me wants it to, part of me is scared that it will.  Will it be just like my fading flowers?  Will I only have pictures?  

Okay, well now I am making myself cry, so it's time to stop.  Theraputic writing should not make the pain worse... 

The donuts for my team are here (thank you Hubs) and it's time to head out.  

Take a moment to love those that are near and dear, put down your phone, have a conversation, cherish the memories, we all thought there were many more memories to be made... 

Thursday, March 15, 2018

what we give...

It's far too early to be awake today.  But I have much to do, so thankful that coffee finished brewing!

Today there will be meetings and scrambling to do good in this crazy world.

We're working on our Annual Campaign, and this year has been an absolute struggle. This campaign is so important.  It allows us to continue to do the great work that we do all year round.  I mean come on, it's the Y!!  We are a place that connects people, that helps you when you need a place to belong and work on your health.  No matter what that need is.  We provide amazing programs to kids in very underserved neighborhoods.  Making sure that they have access to the same things as children from homes with more resources, in fact even more than some of those children get.  We teach reading, conflict resolution, we help mentor them to achieve their dreams, send them on trips, and help them learn about our government and their role in it through Youth and Government.

And that is simply a glazing on the surface.

So why is it so hard this year?

Is it simply because people are being more calloused?  Have all the divisions in our country and local communities tarnished their willingness to give either of themselves or their time?

Yesterday I was on a mission to give both of my time and treasure.  It wasn't really much.  Little things to me.  But it helped me in this process of healing to make someone happier, to help them feel important and loved.

It all happened when I got my coffee, I'd forgotten to make any more and I really needed a cup.  I was seriously struggling with life yesterday and didn't feel the need or desire to participate in life. Coffee and breakfast were a must if I was going to even make it through the morning (the darn bread molded while I was down south and in my struggles last weekend I never went to the store for more - tore off the mold then fed it to the critters out scavaging).

I don't know what prompted me to do it, and I hope it wasn't coffee for the entire office, but I decided to pay for the person behind me. I was watching her through my mirrors, she looked as stressed and overwhelmed with life as I was feeling.  Who knows if she was.  Maybe that was her normal look. The barrista's smile made that small gesture worth it.  I hadn't thought about her feelings when I decided to do it.  I simply thought about the one behind me.  The ripple effect was obvious the moment I said those words.  Her eyes sparkled, her smile broadened so much that I think I could see all of her teeth.  She held her head a bit higher.  She was an older lady with a beautiful personality, the spark added to her by the gift of being able to tell even a single person that your coffee is paid for, made her radiant.

I was feeling better already.

Next stop after driving in to work and putting my bags in my office was to visit with a few of my members.

I have one that has managed to steal a special place in my heart.   He's smart, funny, his smile can light up a room, he's quiet and unassuming, and in the next instant he's bold and exploring who he is.  Back in October or November he broke, fractured, shattered his ankle/heel.  He's always striking statue poses and holds them for as long as he can.  That day he chose an unstable spot without knowing it, it gave way and his life has not been the same since.

Prior to his accident, he wouldn't talk to anyone.  Just gave you an icy "I dare you" stare if you even tried to smile in his direction.  But life sometimes works the way it needs to.  He now has so many people that support him, spend hours talking to him, encourage him.  His home is the bitter streets.  This winter was particularly hard, with a metal frame surrounding his leg, pins going in at all angles.  His pride didn't let us help him with a place to stay, we brought many opportunities to him, he chose to not follow through. I hope that knowing we were all there for him during the hours of boredom that became his days helped.

We chatted about his recovery and when he might start rehabilitation.  We talked about all sorts of silly things.  And then we each moved on with our day.  He knew about my Dad, all my members did, he only asked if I was doing okay and moved on.  I encouraged him to reach out a bit more to his son, and we both moved on.

Chatting with him with his beautiful smile that he seldom used to share and now brightens the room with, always makes my world a bit brighter.

I was reminded why I was fighting the battle I was with gathering funds to help people.

After a brief chat with my oldest and one of my newest B's, my world felt lighter. They are both helping me to fight the battle to succeed at life.  Their love and support is beyond priceless to me!  And when the newest one told me she felt like she should be on Touched by an Angel, I could definitely see the spark of Della Reese in her beautiful eyes and smile.  They both encourage and motivate me to be better than.  To make a difference.  Their stories are their's to tell, but I am thankful to be a part of it.

I am surrounded by a tribe of people.  My Y family.  And they are my Tribe.  Together we strive to make each day a bit better for all we come in contact with. I spent a great deal of time yesterday engrossed in the mundane of my day, while listening to the magic happening just outside my door.

Each time someone gave a $10 gift - because it was all they had - I realized that more and more people were learning that we are a charity.  We just have the added benefit of having an incredible fitness center on top of all of that.

I started to leave around 6 pm, I was worn out, exhausted, feeling like I had given all I had to give and was looking forward to finding my soft chair and a lot less people - remember I do have a love hate relationship with the people factor and it exhausts me.  As I walked out of my building, I picked up my phone to call my "b".  She is one of the folks keeping close tabs on me, making sure I don't wear myself out. I feel like I have an army looking out for me lately, I'm grateful, I'm still not sure on my own.

Just as she answered a woman and her teenage son approached me.  I work in a city filled with less than safe homeless people and I'm smart enough to be cautious,  Something in her eyes and the pleading in her voice actually made me hang up.  I gave her my attention.  I was in front of banks of windows full of people and didn't feel frightened.

A domestic problem earlier in the day had stranded the two of them in our strange city.  It was cold, they hadn't eaten all day and were very hungry.  As they were not familiar with our city, they didn't know that all of the shelters and meal providers stopped serving at 5:30 and by the time they'd found them, there was no food to be had.

I don't carry cash.  I mean I work in the city and have a pretty decent walk to my car. I knew that I had a $5 bill in my purse and food in my office.  Not a meal, just little snacks to survive when lunch doesn't happen. I asked them to wait for me and hurried back inside.

If they weren't shaking me down for alcohol or drug dollars they would wait.  And I could safely open my purse inside and not be worried.

They waited.

I came out with some random items and the measley little $5.  I handed them the water, crackers and an apple. Waiting for the response.  Too many times I've fallen for the "I'm hungry" only to have my gift of food thrown away.

I watched Mom hand the son the bag of crackers after opening it.  I could see she was hungry, but let him eat first.  As I stood there talking with them and trying to help solve their problem they both ate quickly and gratefully.  I handed her the $5 asked her to wait again and went back to see what else I might have.  I had bought lunch for my team to thank them for their help, support and love and one of them had to leave before it arrived.  His sandwich was sacrified.  I will get him another today.

I did as much as I was comfortable doing, again too many times I've been taken advantaged of and threatened.  I will admit to being scared.

The hug and the tears in their eyes made me so sad.  Made me angry at the man that deserted them on the city streets with nothing but their cell phones.  No ID's to get them in anywhere.

In hindsight, I probably should have taken them around the corner and bought them a meal.  I was still a bit scared. I know that Hubs would have supported me.  I honestly couldn't afford a night in one of the local hotels for them.  Or I would have.

She made me sad when she said I was one of the nicest people they'd encountered all day.  I didn't feel like I did nearly enough. L&L were alone in our city, waiting for this morning when the money home would arrive. I prayed all night for them.

Today, I will start working on raising that last $20,000 I have 17 days left to do it, and I am not about to give up. There are so many people hurting in our city. In our world.

Can you imagine the power if we all stepped forward just a bit, opened our arms for hugs, used our voices and skills for good?

I'm going to challenge you all to be just a bit kinder today.  To give just a bit more of yourself and your treasures for someone else.  Whether you do it in memory of someone or simply to make life easier. Being nice doesn't cost anything and everyone has things below the surface, the smile, the frown that they are dealing with.

Be kind.

p.s. If you are looking for a place to help... we have lots of people that need it! And you can text 71777 and enter the keyword YDowntown there are some many seniors, adults and kids that need help.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

strolling through memories...

The sunrise this morning is dull.  There are no vibrant colors to shake off the gloom.  I guess that is a good thing, maybe it is the promise of a bright sunny day?

I could use one.

In a few moments I will go down to my daughters house and take care of her critters.  She's off on one of her annual spring break adventures.  I love that she gives her girls and herself these memories and experiences.  Pretty sure she got that gene from her Papa.

He was always taking his girls and Momma on adventures.  And some of them were absolutely hysterical.  His wanderlust took us all over the globe.  I'm pretty sure my sweet Momma would have been pleased as punch to settle still, not that she didn't enjoy the adventures, but it sure would have been easier to raise us in one spot.

And no matter where in the world we stopped, it was an opportunity for exploration, immersion and learning.  My memories are getting a bit foggy and some of the stories I remember simply from hearing them repeated over the years.

I wish I could say I remember the times with my younger sisters better, but I'd moved on to my own life while they were still in grade school.  But I am sure those experiences were there for them also.

I vaguely remember Florida and Mississippi.  I remember Daddy teaching me to fish with just a stick, line and hook.  Somewhere in someone's pictures, maybe mine, there is a picture of me holding a fish on a pier in my little swimsuit.  Maybe I don't remember it, m
aybe the picture makes it real?

I remember little me in my Brownie uniform going to the Bozo show, I think it was up in Canada, we lived in Michigan at the time - I think.  My Dad was far away - not sure what country he was in.  This was before VHS and long before digital recording.  Mom had wanted him to see it.  I am the most uncoordinated person.  And I HATE being in the center of attention.  You can imagine how distraught and embarrassed I was to be the seat called to come down and meet Bozo live on television.  To have to play a game, to attempt to win his treasure chest full of toys and well... treasures.  They handed me a bunch of balls, I remember feeling they were so big in my little hands, and I had to throw them across the room into a large egg carton shaped "thing".  Not only am I uncoordinated, but I am also supremely unathletic! There was no way that task was going to happen.

Tugging on my little uniform, wanting to fall through the floor, knowing I could not possibly succeed, I closed my eyes for the last ball.  I'd already missed with the first three.  By the time I'd opened my eyes, I can remember them wheeling that huge treasure chest to me, I can remember looking shocked that I had actually gotten a ball in the target.  I was the silly little girl taking home all of those prizes.

I don't remember what all was in there.  I'd love to say I do.  I have a needlework pillow stashed downstairs in my memory boxes - it was years later that I finally did that. There were toys, cups, tchotchke's, and games.  The one thing I remember the clearest was the hockey stick and puck.  Those were given to my Daddy.  They were autographed by some of the greats to be, and he treasured it.  I don't know what's become of it.  I know for years and years it was toted around the world, Momma helped him to keep it safe.  But life takes twists and turns and somewhere in the mess I have no idea where it went.  I was so proud to give that to him!  I know it made him smile.

I do vaguely remember the twister that came through the camp ground where we lived in Mississippi, my youngest two sisters were very small, we were living there to be near Daddy while he went to school.  I vaguely remember sitting in our pop up camper doing homework, and I remember after that storms dancing through puddles with my sister looking for things that had blown away.  To be young and carefree and not realize the danger we had truly been in.


In upstate New York, we often went to Fort Stanwick.  Pretty sure that is where Daddy sparked my love of history.  I loved going back in time, I still have my tin cup from there. I remember the flowing dresses, the dipping of candles, the smith's making horse shoes, I was so excited to be there for the bicentenial that would be happening later that year. To my little fifth grade self, that was the greatest opportunity on the planet!  You can imagine my devastation when my Daddy came home and announced we were moving to Crete.

In fifth grade, that opportunity is hardly a treasure.  In fact I was crushed.  How in the world could we celebrate something as wonderful, as once in a lifetime as the two hundredth birthday of our nation clear across the world on an island? It also occurred to me that my violin lessons and ballet that I adored were going away. I'd been third seat all city... and we were leaving it behind.













Crete was wonderous.  The lessons learned there only sparked more of an appetite to continue growing and I can honestly say I don't have time today to detail all those bits and pieces.  Maybe those are stories for another moment in time. Knossos Palace and the Minotaurs lair.  The most incredible Bicentennial celebration.  Harvesting almonds, camping on beaches, making friends with the Greek priest, learning needlework, wandering to the bakery for fresh baked breads... Eating by the water, shopping in the shops, Daddy protecting us from flying almonds at Greek weddings, epiphany and the list goes on.

In fact Daddy and Momma encouraged us to always explore, learn and grow.  Maybe I will write more about it.  Maybe I can't.  Sharing these few memories have given me strength for this day. I'm glad I also inherited that gypsy gene as we used to say jokingly.  Who knows... after all the part of the world that Daddy is from is the home of the gypsies. Maybe it's simply in our blood.  I love that I passed it on to at least one of my babies and she is passing it on to hers.

I'm so thankful for the memories that I am slowly unearthing.  Bringing them back to life after far too many years.

I have been blessed so many times in this life.  We've shared so many experiences, laughter and tears.  These tears are by far the bitterest. But I am learning to live with them. 


Tuesday, March 13, 2018

how...

I should be rushing about. 

I know that I am behind at work. I'm behind at home.  I'm just behind at life right now.

And I have zero energy or desire to be actively engaged. 

Everyone loses parents, loved ones, family and friends.

I have a million feelings fighting their way to the surface.  I always knew that I'd been blessed and never really had to deal with much loss. I've always had the dread of how I would deal with it when it finally snuck into my life.

I want to put on my big girl pants.  I want to actively be a grown up.  Today, I'm not feeling the grown up thing.  I'm feeling like a little girl that can't find a center point. I'm feeling lost.

I thought about sitting in my comfy chair while I took a few minutes to center myself.  To find my own middle ground, where I could balance where I am in my heart, with where I need to be in my world.  I couldn't do it.

I'm sitting at the island, surrounded by the overwhelming smell from the lilies.  I love that smell!  Staring out the window at random times.  Watching for a cardinal.

Today I am struggling with guilt.  I didn't find enough time over the past year to go and visit.  I was busy opening a Y.  I didn't coax him to talk on the phone as much as I wanted to, he didn't really like to talk on the phone, it was hard for him. I'm envious of the hours more that my sisters had with him.  Wishing that I could have had a few more.

All those silly meme's on Facebook that I look at, like and move on from.  Were they really trying to get my attention.  Telling me to pay attention more.  That family and friends are precious?  To take the time.  Ironically, one has shown up repeatedly in the past days from all different sources, it's saying to take care of yourself and your loved ones... they are what is important. 

Is all the noise in life stopping me from focusing?  My dear friend that teaches Yoga, suggested I try an exercise called "legs up the wall" as I am having trouble with my left leg again from lack of exercise, as she thought it would help.  I've been trying to do it twice a day.  Not only does it help my leg and back, it helps my heart.  Because I am taking that little 10 minute window to be still. To stop and allow life to balance out.  I'm listening to my breath and focusing on nothing.

Another person very dear to me took the time yesterday to listen to my swirling chaos.  To share with me that the blog I wrote about his mom when she passed is very important to him.  He rattled off the title without a moment's hesitation.  I went back and found it yesterday.  To see if I could find some peace in it.  I did.

Faith, Family and Friends....

Those are the very things I am holding on to now.  I have family and friends sharing different bible verses, calming techniques, shoulders to cry on and strength to borrow.  I am truly blessed in this life.

I was looking at all of the flowers in my kitchen yesterday, watering them, pulling wilted blossoms and basking in the scent.  I was feeling mournful.  They were reminding me of what I've lost. Yet, sweet Hubs put it all into perspective.  He held me tight, as we both took in the scent from the lilies and stared at the cross stitch I'd made for my Dad, and he said to not feel sad, those flowers and plants were sent to me by people that love me very much. 

Sitting here smelling those lilies this morning.  I do feel loved.  I think my Dad would be proud that I have been the kind of person that has people in their life to lift them up at times like these.

This is going to be a very long journey.  I don't know that I will ever recover from it.  But the pretty cardinal that just landed on my deck and looked in the glass door, is reassuring me that I will survive it.  I know that I will come out of it a bit different, my life lens is changed - permanently. And I pray that it will make me a better person.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

heaven needed a hero...

Outside it's cold and dreary.  Little spurts of icy hail pellets sprinkling down. 

Inside I feel cold and dreary.  And I definitely feel icy pellets in my heart.

I haven't written in a week.  I've tried. 

It's been the hardest week of my life so far. My memories keep flashing back as far as I can remember and then forward to last Sunday and then Monday.

Running my fingers through my Daddy's soft hair.  Feeling the wrinkles at his eyes from a life time of smiling.  Looking so much like he was simply sleeping.  Wanting so bad for him to open his beautiful eyes. Hating the bitter cold that met my hands, the shiver from kissing his sweet face.

Knowing when I walked away I would never in this lifetime touch him again. I wanted so badly to hold his hands, but they were already folded over his chest and the blankets were up to his neck.  I'm sure there was no need to close his chest, so I am thankful they protected us from that.

Looking at all the pictures and helping to straighten the house and prepare for the memorial service was hell in itself.  Part of me longed to leave, to simply head home to snuggle my Hubs and boys in the comfort of my own world and try to block it out.  I knew no one that would be there.  It was not for my comfort and I didn't feel the strength to give strangers comfort.

You can't block it out. 


I keep telling myself that he is not hurting anymore, that he's fishing and doing all the things denied to him by his stroke.  I know he's surrounded by my Grammie and his bull dogs - of course all the other pups, but mostly Butchie 1 and Butchie 2.  Daddy loved his bull dogs. 

I know the cardinals that keep hovering nearby were sent from him to comfort us.  The day of his service a big, fat, bright red one stayed near the house all day.  It hovered in the feeders, the trees, the scrubs and on the fence.  It felt like he was watching out for all of us. Letting us know, that even though he wasn't beside us any longer that he was still near. And would always watch over Momma and his girls.


My whole life I have worked hard to make him proud.  It was like a life mission, to be a person that my Daddy would be proud of.  I saw him right before Christmas and we were talking about my career and things I had accomplished.  The sparkle in his eye and the love in his voice when he told me how proud he was of all I had accomplished, that he always knew I would... even as sick as I was, I am so thankful my kids pleaded with me to go.  If I hadn't, I would have never heard those words, I would have always wondered.


As I was searching for pictures, I realized that even though I had been home to see them, I'd been so busy making memories that I hadn't gotten a picture of us. Honestly, I took very few while I was home this time. 

Funny, Arkansas is not my home.  I've never lived there in my life. I guess where ever your parents are is where home becomes.  I'm so thankful that my Momma and Daddy had so many years together.  Even when they drove one another crazy (don't we all?) they still had that beautiful love for one another.


That picture book in my head is loaded to bursting, even without the most recent.  The memories are overflowing.  Game nights, midnight omelets (my Daddy made the most incredible omelets), learning to fish and to ride a bike, living in a camper while he went to school, arguments over homework, the celebrations when he would come home from TDY, exploring the world, always knowing my hero would rescue me, learning to drive, long talks about life and its challenges, banter about politics, buying audio books every payday when he'd first had his stroke, his pride in all of our accomplishments, the love he showed in a million ways, the bravery he showed when Momma was sick, dancing with my Daddy at weddings and in our living room as he taught us all the old dances. 


For every memory there are a million more.  And I am so thankful for each and every one.  Today is my baby girl's birthday.  I remember the day she was born.  I remember my Daddy's reaction.  He bought her the first flowers she ever got.  She wasn't but an hour old.  I was hungry, it was after 1 am.  I'd last eaten dinner on March 9th.  My Daddy left the hospital and came back with a single rose for my baby girl and dinner for me from the local gas station.  It was all that was open. I've never forgotten that.  While all of our attention had shifted to our beautiful blue eyed chubby cheeked baby girl, my Daddy was worried about his worn out baby girl.




I don't know that I feel strong enough to move forward yet, but life can't wait for my participation any longer.  And I'm sure that my Daddy is probably getting tired of sending so many cardinals to let us know he's near.

My sweet 11 year old Grand daughter called me on my drive to Arkansas that horrible day.  She's walked in my shoes already.  Her sweet voice telling me how tragic it was and that it needed a phone call not a text was exactly the salve I needed at that point.  She's right.  She reminded me that now my Daddy was with me all the time, not just sometimes.  And that I could talk to him whenever I wanted.

She and I have an ice cream date when she gets home from spring break.  I took her out for ice cream when she needed some love after losing her Daddy.  She said we need to go out together when she's home. 

So much of this week is bluring.  There are beautiful flowers and plants, stacks of cards, hurting hearts and bitter words and tears.  As I move into week two of learning this new way of life, I worry about my Momma, after all she lost her best friend and love of a life time.  I worry for my sisters, we will each grieve and mourn in our own ways, and I fear for the damage it may cause.  And I worry for my sweet Hubs, he lost a dear friend.

I pray that Daddy keeps sending Cardinals and that God takes care of our precious Daddy.

After all... our Hero is home with him now.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

all the kings horses...

... and all the king's men couldn't put Humpty together again.

At 4:55 am this morning I got the call. My Daddy was gaining his wings.  His poor heart tore again, there was nothing they could do.  It was time to let him fly free.

He fought hard. 

He's earned his rest.

The shock, pain and ripples of despair are washing over me, just like the brilliant sunrise. 

I had misunderstood the initial phone call.  More puzzled with each call or text.  I hadn't realized my Daddy was already gone, sitting and staring at my phone waiting for the call that let me know his battle was over.

Confusion overwhelmed me. 

My baby sister so calm and stoic. Asking if I was going down with her today.  Not understanding why she was hurrying to pack, to head down, when he would be gone before she got there.  Not realizing he was already gone. 

Puzzled.  Confused.  Struggling.

I've said good bye to few people in my life.  I have never witnessed the death of a loved one.  Only once have I stroked the cold hand of someone of importance in my life. 

I don't know how to process this.  I don't even know where to start. 

When the transfer on Friday fell through I had the worst feeling.  I've always believed that all things happen for a reason, to put us where we need to be.  As my rattled brain is sorting through things, I see God's hand in the problems on Friday.  They weren't problems or challenges.  It was keeping Daddy with the people that have taken such good care of him through to the end.

Hubs reminded me this morning as I was sobbing into his chest, that my Daddy knew I had been there, when he squeezed my hand so tight he was letting me know that he knew.  My sweet Hubs that was thinking of me, while dealing with losing his friend of over 30 years.

I keep hearing his Doctor saying Daddy's heart was big, not enlarged, just big.  My Dad was the meanest SOB on the outside.  He could hurt you so deeply, he was opinionated and distant.  But the Doc was right, all of that tough, hard, shell that the world saw, protected the most loving, biggest heart, and gentlest soul I'd ever known.

He loved deeply and freely.  Although he hid it from the world, no one was allowed to see the crack in his armor. 

My heart breaks that my youngest grand daughter will never know how much he adored her. 

A million things are running through my head, beautiful memories.  Hearing the little gal at the CVICU tell me how much I look like him. Probably one of the best compliments ever.  I do and as my mom told me far too many times "you are just like your father".  So much. Too much.

I am eternally grateful that on February 11 at 1 pm, I spoke to my Daddy for what would be the last time.  My sister did a Facebook messenger call, since I don't have an iPhone. He looked so frail and scared.

 "I love you Daddy, I love you baby... be good"

I'll try to always be good Daddy... I'll do my best to make you proud.  I promise. 

Rest easy now, you've earned it. I will miss you, I will miss our banter, I will miss hearing your voice and the hugs and kiss when we'd part. 

And I will love you forever...

Friday, March 2, 2018

living in faith...

Welcome March.  I was hoping to wish you that yesterday.  I've been waiting patiently for your arrival.  The day got away from me and by the time I'd gotten the news I'd been waiting for, there was no time nor energy to sit down and write. 

February was brutal.  I'm still feeling the pain and sting of it. I'm exhausted mentally and physically. I'm emotionally battered.  I'm fighting the fatigue and pain that a fibro flare brings, I refuse to give in.  I might be cracking a bit on the edges, but I am not going to allow any of it to win. 

We've all been waiting with baited breath.  Praying to God and questioning mere mortals.  Dad has been stable for the past week and a half.  He's needed to move to a facility that could close his chest.  A place where he could recover from this nightmare.  

But hospital politics, insurance company games and none of the stars aligning has caused us more problems that solutions.  Until yesterday.  

We almost had him moving on February 28.  But in typical February fashion, it wasn't about to happen.  Nothing was even remotely easy in February. And we got the bitter and frustrating news that it wasn't going to happen again. As text messages flew back and forth and the frustration from feeling helpless mounted, we waited. 

Each of us questioning different parts of it all.  How much longer could he take being on the vent, was he safe, could he hear us and know that we are there - or in my case not there. How much more of this could we all take. There are moments that we are all incredibly strong, but there are also times when that hard outer shell that protects you cracks from the strain....

Last night we got the word.  The hospital that we had been hoping for was going to take him.  The plastic surgeon was on board and they had a cardio vascular surgeon willing to step up.  The whole universe had finally aligned!

This morning while I was walking my boys the text messages started.  I was a bit behind on the news.  Mom and one of my sisters were on their way to the hospital.  They had started prepping Dad last night.  They have a special ambulance that will transport him. My understanding is that bed and all will go right onto the ambulance.  He'll still be asleep.  Sleeping beauty will not have any idea of the move, or will he?

By nine this morning he will be safely at the next stop on his journey back to being our grouchy Daddy.  Soon, although we don't know for sure when soon is, they will start to put him back together. 

Before long they will start to wake him. At least I am going to continue to have faith that is the path he will take.  God hasn't brought him this far to snatch him away from us.  

When I was a little girl, I wore a necklace that I got from my Grammie, it was a little magnifying glass tear drop shape with a mustard seed inside.  She always said "if you have faith the size of a mustard seed nothing is impossible".  I still have the little bauble tucked in my old jewelry box of tattered and torn memories. My heart needs it. 

Well March... I'm glad that you dawned bright and sunny today. Yesterday started rather dismally, but I forgive you, you had a lot of gloom and misery to push aside from February's shenanigans.  This morning you greeted me with a gorgeous moon.  Bright, huge and welcoming.  Followed by a breathtaking sun rise.  I don't know if it's the same where my folks are, I hope so.  All of us could the energy and beauty right now.  The sign that God is still in control and he's got this. We mere human's, we falter sometimes and need help to hold on to that little bitty mustard seed. 

Today will be tough.  I want to be there, I want to be making sure that he is safe.  

I can't be.  So I will continue to pray. 

making time...

I love the brightness that comes with a fresh snowfall.  Even when the moon doesn't seem to be shining due to cloud cover, it is brigh...