Friday, October 30, 2015

Until I was Numb

This is a difficult time of year.  Each of my most painful losses has happened in late November and early December.   Although there are years between each of them,  the anniversary dates of their passings are within weeks of each other.

The passing of time has not lessened my grief.   But time has kindly made it possible for the pain to burrow and hide and at times rest.

I've written several times about one of my biggest grief hurts, the feeling that I missed out on large chunks of Joe's life.  Mainly, the secretive teen years and the period of time when he left to live on his own.

I'm well aware of the normalcy of a child's need to explore just beyond the reach of his mother's watchful eye.

I've reflected that it clearly happened with the turn of my head.

One moment I held a cuddly toddler on my lap and seemingly the next moment, he or she wriggled to be free, beyond the reach of my protective arms.

I have revealed before,  that I believe a combination of circumstances, along with our mutually quiet and reserved personalities led to a period of a separation of sorts between Joe and me.  Perhaps it was perceived on my part, but probably not.

In other posts, I've talked about how Joe and I were just starting to get re-acquainted shortly before and most definitely after, we found out about his illness.  We were beginning to relate and communicate as one adult to another and especially as one parent to another.

I've mentioned that the grief, although mostly sadness,  insinuates itself in other ways.  I've said how it causes me to be more conscious and reflective.

I 've shared how a glance at a photo will trigger an agonizing loop of over and over again "why" questions in my mind.

I've expressed my anger at the unfairness of it all.

I started writing this particular piece a couple of weeks ago, but I keep coming back to the draft, re-reading several times and then I always get stuck right here:

 "I've expressed my anger at the unfairness of it all."

That's where my heart and mind shuts down.  For there is nothing more to be said, right?

It is unfair.

I can't seem to get beyond that.
But, I feel as though my story wants to lead me down a new enlightened path.
Niggling, fleeting thoughts whisper to me but disappear before I can grab a hold of them.

Frustrated, I wind up saving the draft and flipping down the top of the laptop.

As I meander on, I think about my mom, who passed away nearly six years ago.
I miss her.  I miss the way we shared each other's lives.   I miss how much she cared for me like no other person could.
I found out what that meant after I became a mom.

My daughter and I speak on the phone at least once a week.
This is an example of how our phone conversation always starts out:

Me or her depending on who calls who:

"What's going on?"

That little question will lead to an hour or so of catching up.

I find out how her job is going. I savor the latest, cutest thing my two-year-old grandson said today. I'm interested in how my grand-daughter is making out in her new middle school.  I want to know about my grandson's struggles and successes in second grade.  I want to hear about my son-in-law's food shopping trips, always with a kid in the cart, to give mom a break.  I admire their devotion to family time.

After I get off the  phone, Ross will ask, "So what's going on with the family?"
I'll say, "Nothing much."
Chuckling, Ross will say,  "Nothing much?  You were on the phone for over an hour."

It makes me think about the many hours I spent speaking to my mom on the phone.

My youngest son and I don't speak very often. That makes me sad.   It's not due to any type of estrangement.  I think it's just a mother-son thing.  Just, I guess as it once was with his brother.

This morning I walked around the pond under a brilliant, cloudless, blue sky.  I looked up and noticed that even the moon decided to hang out.  It was invigoratingly chilly and I moved at a brisk pace, swinging my arms as I pushed my face into the breeze until I was numb.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

How To Be Idle

In a recent post on a blog in my reading list,  "Thoughts From A Bag Lady in Waiting", Linda Myers (the blog's author) refers to a poem by Mary Oliver called "The Summer Day".
The last two lines of the poem were the prompt for a writing group that Linda participated in.

       "Tell me, what is it you plan to do 
       with your one wild and precious life?"

In the poem, Mary Oliver paints a vivid image of a lazy summer day.  As she goes on to describe the day, she completely immerses herself in, not only the whole of the experience but even more so in the minutest of details.

I have little (okay, practically no) experience with poetry.  But, this poem touched me deeply.

I have had significant, heartbreaking losses in the last few years.        

However, for me the question about what I plan to do with my one precious life is not what grabbed me.  Nor was the reminder of how short life is.

"Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?"

Her message that it's okay to take the time to lay in the grass and do nothing but wonder,

         " to be idle and blessed"

followed by the question, "Tell me what else should I have done?" is what clutched at my soul.

Let me explain.  I don't know if it is specific to my generation, cultural background, gender or retirement, but I have difficulty doing nothing.   For after all there is always work that has to be done, right?
Something must be accomplished every day, no?
What if unexpected guests showed up at my door?  How embarrassing would it be if the house was not in order?

I have started to keep an online journal.  Or I should say, once again, I am attempting to keep an online journal.  I must point out that the security options on my journal blog are set to private.  There is absolutely no way anyone would be able to read or even find this blog.

But, as I read back through the entries, of my most private journal, I see it is merely a list of what I have done that day.  Funny, I apparently have to prove even to myself that I and my life are still worthwhile.
For after all on Tuesday:

"I started going through my closet and drawers to put away some of my summer clothes and to switch over to winter stuff.
I put together a give-a-way box."

There is no mention of the Blue Jay perched on the very tip top branch of the pine I stopped to watch on my walk, or not a hint of the elephant cloud I spied.

So, today when I am out for my walk, instead of checking my FitBit every few minutes to see if I am anywhere near my 10,000 steps, maybe I will stop and sit on the bench by the pond and wonder.

  "Thursday, October 15, 2015

Today, Jane called.  I invited her over.  And instead of rushing around to make the bed and wash the dishes in the sink before she arrived, I waited for her in the sunroom watching the pine branches sway.


Tuesday, October 13, 2015

A Story I Am Compelled to Tell

Thoughts are playful in the dark wee hours.   They dart in and flirt with me.  They bob and weave,  teasing me with a mere glimpse as they dare me to snatch one of them.
In the very early of this day, I captured one.  I held it close so that it could not escape.  I closed my eyes, coaxing my muse to lead the way, promising I would follow without care.

I saw the girl in faded denim overalls and pink ruffled blouse.   She was the little one with large brown eyes and long dark curls.  I watched her playing in between the hanging wet laundry.   She would giggle, her arm raised,  as she jumped up to try to reach the top of the fluttering, brilliant, Clorox-white bed sheets.  
The girl spotted the woman watching from the window.  The woman shook her head back and forth, wagged her finger and mouthed the words, "No, No!"
She smiled and waved to her mother.   
The girl sat down in the tall grass, closed her eyes and lifted her face up to feel the warmth of the summer sun. 
She desperately wanted to go down by the woods.  She had stood at the edge many times.  She peered in, squinting to see what was beyond the darkness. She breathed in the smell of dank moss.  She was curious about the slithering, chirping, scurrying, tapping and caw-cawing creature noises from within.   
But, her mother warned her,  "Don't ever go into those woods!"  
She turned towards her house.  Her mother was no longer watching.   She would only be gone for a little while. 

I woke up this morning wanting to tell you all about it.   Urge shook my shoulder roughly, and it's gravelly voice snarled "get up, get up!"  Compulsion yanked on my arm until I nearly fell out of bed.  My fingers curled in and out, uncontrollably, until with a satisfied sigh, they hovered over asdf and jkl;.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

My Dear Cousin

I am heartbroken.  My cousin Joe's son passed away on Monday.  Kevin was only 35 years old.  We are all in shock.  Joe just lost his wife, Joanne two months ago.
Joanne was an invalid and Joe was her caregiver for many years.

My son was 34 when he died in December of 2011.   I understand that part of my cousin's pain.
When I heard about Kevin, I felt helpless.  I wanted to be of comfort to Joe.  After all, I should know what to say to him, to ease his pain, shouldn't I?

I read the condolence messages people were leaving on my cousin's Facebook page.   Of course there was the standard "Sorry for your loss."  There were several "There are no words..."   Many were keeping Joe in "their thoughts" and praying for him and for his family.

I remembered that the comfort I received was not in what someone said, but rather I felt cared for simply because they reached out to me.

Joe always had an upbeat  positive outlook all throughout Joanne's illness.  But losing his son so soon after Joanne.  I wondered how he was going to be able to get through this.

I then recalled a post Joe wrote a few months before Joanne passed away.  Here is what he said:
"How to deal with down & out problems in our lives.Inspiration! Every day! Wake up! Deal with whatever! Live your daily life! And make it work for you! And drag as many people as you can with you! The big word? Positive. The big phrase? Be the best as you can be for you! Starts with you & spreads from there!"

Joe, you once told me that I was an inspiration for you.   But, Cousin,  you are truly the one who inspires!

My heart goes out to you Joe.  I am so sorry for your loss.  And you are in my thoughts.  

Sunday, October 4, 2015


Sunday, October 4, 2015

Rico fell off the bed at 2:00 a.m.  I heard the thump.   It woke me up.  It was unusually dark in the house.  Still sleepy,  I remember curiously thinking, It's very dark in here.
I couldn't see where Rico was.  I felt around the bed for him hoping that he was in his usual spot, which is right between Ross and me.   When I couldn't feel him, I reached over to turn on my nightstand lamp. Nothing happened.  That's when I realized the electricity was off.
I stumbled out of bed and groped my way over to my dresser, which is where I keep a flashlight.   I turned on the flashlight and found Rico sitting on the hope chest at the foot of the bed.  He must have rolled over onto it. He was whining a little.  As I picked him up, the electricity came back on.
The house jolted as it came alive with sounds and lights. The microwave chirped and the refrigerator burped. The treadmill display started to flash, and the lamp came on.
The red, blue and green LED lights on each of the many and varied electronic devices we have plugged in popped on and the bedroom lit up like a Christmas tree.
And I thought, No wonder I only get 4 hours of sleep a night.  
After Rico and I settled back down, I noticed the display on the Treadmill was still blinking.  I waited a few minutes, hoping it would stop.  It didn't.
I got up out of bed, hopped up on the treadmill and started pushing buttons.  The darn thing wouldn't turn off.   Finally, I remembered the safety key,  pulled it out and the blinking stopped.
When I tried to get back into bed,  Rico had commandeered my spot, with his head on my pillow.  I pushed and prodded him until he moved.  He growled the whole time.   We both eventually fell back to sleep.

When I woke at 7:30, Ross was just waking up.  He mumbled,  "Why were you on the Treadmill last night?"

Saturday, October 3, 2015

The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow, Please!

Okay, it's been raining and blowing for two days straight.  If it were 30 degrees colder, well you know, we would be socked in with many feet of snow.

I've been recovering from a little bout of gastritis.  Details are not necessary.  Really, you don't want to know.   So, I've been taking it easy.  And after two days of no exercise, no walking and rain, rain, rain, I'm officially stir crazy.

From where I'm sitting I have a direct view of our entry door sidelights and transom windows.  I can see out to the front yard trees.  They are thick with still dark green leaves.  The branches are waving back and forth and bouncing up and down.  With each gust of the wind the leaves turn their backs desperately trying to hold on.
At times, the wind calms a little,  the foliage stills and I catch a glimpse of unrelenting sheeting rain.
The grayness makes me sad.  I pensively ponder what might have been as I desperately try to hold on. 

I have settled myself in front of the fireplace. No fire.  I have a few necessities around me. 
Rico to keep me company. He picks his head up every once in a while to whine because he's not on my lap.
My cell phone, to take photos, play Candy Crush and browse Facebook.  I rarely get phone calls on my cell.  Oh, and when I'm not doing any of those things, I listen to my latest downloaded book - "The Girl in The Spider's Web".  I just started it.  So far I like it.
My cordless home phone, in case Ross calls from the grocery store to ask, "Are you sure there is nothing else you want beside Turkey Hill Vanilla Bean (no fat, no sugar added) ice cream." (He called I told him, "No that's all I want, thanks.")
My laptop for obvious reasons, yes blogging.
My knitting, for when I get bored with electronics. I've been steadily working on my shawl and it's growing quite nicely.
Oh and there, in the corner of my ottoman, see it, it's the Franciscan Pottery, Desert Rose pattern, sandwich dish with crumbs from my no salt saltine crackers.

Ross has settled himself in front of the TV.  He's waiting for the Navy/Airforce football game to start.   He has his necessities around him.   His cell phone, to do whatever it is he does on his cell phone.   A nine-inch stack of magazines to read during commercial breaks and time outs,  and a snack of honey roasted nuts, crackers and hummus.

It's just that kind of day.