Tag Archives: death

Acknowledging feelings

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A few minutes ago I read that Glen Campbell died.    Now, I was a bit young for his music, (or was so into John Denver that no one else compared!) but I remember my parents loving his music, and when I hear his music, it lifts me up, makes me perky, happy.     So when I reacted with tears to his death, I was a bit dumbfounded.  First off, I’ve been told no one can cry on Prozac.   PLEASE!    I beg to differ!  I remember being at a drive in movie with my parents seeing a movie Glen Campbell starred in.  I had a bit of a crush on him from the movie.   But why am I so emotional about his passing?  It isn’t as if I knew him.  But I have been reading on his battle with Alzheimer’s for a long time, and while I’m grateful for him that his battle is behind him, I’m trying to decipher my own emotions.

Calling Dr. Freud!!!!!!!  

My dad is older than Glen, and my mother just a year and a half behind him.  I’m sure these facts are related to my reaction.   The stories I would read on his battle with Alzheimer’s reminded me of a girlfriend who was a student of mine when her mom was whisped away for years to this disease, and later, her dad.    What was impressed upon me was how loyal and loving this woman was.  She was a role model for me which I’m afraid I fall short on, when it comes to caring for parents.  I do what I can, I really do, and I think I’m a good daughter, but my dad lives hours away, my car has 271k miles on it, and currently uninspected.   When I see my dad, I see his aging, and the pain on his face from knee problems.    It’s very hard for me to see this.  But I know I’m not original to this difficulty, nor am I alone.

And I suppose some of this has to do with accepting death, and perhaps my own.   Don’t get me wrong, while I have freedom right now from the dark and potentially dangerous thoughts of a depressed mind, I see changes in myself, too.   It’s not just my parents who are getting older!

So now I’m listening to a playlist I made of Glen Campbell’s music, I’m working on a pet portrait that looks a hell of a lot better tonight than it did last night, but I’m keenly aware that life can and does change on a dime.     Something today that may seem insufferable, is cast aside with the wind when serious illness or injury occur.     The old adage “when you have your health, you have it all!” is so true!

I’m going to honor these feelings of sadness, and acknowledge the fear of losing my parents, or another sibling, or friend, and try to steer clear of dwelling.   Life is so short, precious, and it’s easy to lose track of what really is important in our lives.  Loss, death is inevitable.  Also I’m very sad (yet happy for my neighbor) that the sale of her house closed today, and she’s on her way down South.  I’m really going to miss her….

RIP Glen Campbell, your music reminds me of my parents when they were much younger, and parents to five children and having serious illness strike my oldest sister at the young age of 6.     Prayers for his family, as they say goodbye, once again, to their husband, father, friend.

Walking through grief

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The past couple days have been rough, with migraines and frustrating bitchiness.   This morning I was allowing myself to get really bent out of shape over nothing, when I sat down and jumped on facebook.      I hope the migraine(s) are behind me, I think it’s related to barometric pressure, my head feels like it isn’t attached to my body.  Strange, and adding to the Bitch of the Year award!

As I surveyed my facebook feed, I read a post from a friend who is really a very lovely woman, a woman of faith, ridiculously talented, and kind to the core.     She posted about two children who touched her deeply today, and made her smile while she was gassing up her car.    It lightened up my mood, until close to the end where she spoke about telling the kids mother how much their kindness and friendliness meant to her, and today or all days, as her sister died early this morning of cancer.   Tears flowed down my face then.

I immediately sent her a message, offering condolences, and thanking her for her share.   My mind swept back to the very days my sisters succumbed to cancer.    I was broken, and I was angry at God for allowing this to happen.  And so began a war between he and me, for months on end.   I defied my morning praises, and no longer prayed at all.   How could he allow this to happen?

In time, I learned and accepted that death is a part of our life, and that fairness doesn’t really play a role here.  But my friend, who had just said goodbye to her sister, was talking about how good God is, and how much this experience helped her, and made her smile.   I cried as I reread her beautiful, lovely, words.    How amazing that she was at peace, or I should say, more peace than I had when my sisters took their last breaths.

I sat in silence, trying to compose myself, get my emotions into check, and while I would like to say the bitchiness melted away, it did not, but I was so moved by her share, and her eloquence, awestruck with her compassion and faith.     When she replied to my message she spoke words I understand too well, about not knowing how she will do this without her sister, her first best friend.    Her words lent clarity to me of how I felt, too.

I remember thinking how cruel it was that the birds still chirped, that life still went on, even though my sisters lives were over.   I remember people telling me “time will heal”.  I also remember being firmly (and probably belligerently) adamant that NO ONE would tell me how to grief, how to walk through this atrocity which had been handed down to my family.   Grief is a journey, a necessary journey that is so individualized.   There is no right or wrong way to grieve, though I hope I handled it with even a small portion of the grace that my friend did this morning.

At this time another friend texts me that she knew and was related to the pedestrian who was hit in Brattleboro yesterday and who died later from her injuries.    Many eyewitnesses have shared that she walked right out in front of the car, the driver was not at fault.  But that driver?  Is devastated.    I saw pics of him with his head in his hands, crying.  Of course he was.  What person wouldn’t be?    And then she shared that this person had also just lost two siblings to cancer.    I was relaying all this to my mom, and we shared how grief is an alternate existence, if you will.   You’re not in your right mind, your preoccupied, sad, emotional, and that may be a part of why she aimlessly walked into traffic.  How incredibly sad.

So, tonight, as I write this, I’m thinking about all that transpired this morning and how it changed and altered my piss poor thinking.   I am still working through some crap, but for the most part, I’ll be crawling into bed very grateful that my day may be frustrating, and my head may ache, but I had a fairly uneventful day given two other peoples lives that changed drastically in a moments time.

I wish you a restful nights sleep, and an uneventful (almost boring) day tomorrow.  Life can change on a dime, and it does.  We find ourselves walking through life without those we love most in the world, and I have since learned that the birds still chirping as we walk through grief is really a gift, because life does go on for some.    How easily, how naturally we take things for granted, at least I do.   And I think I’m a pretty grateful person, but obviously imperfect and still learning about life.   Aren’t we all?

 

Let’s talk politics!

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My heart is heavy, and my patience has worn thin.   Eight years ago when I started to vocalize that I didn’t like our current President, I became a “racist”.   If you weren’t an Obama lover, you were a racist.   I trudged through both of his terms, watching more and more things fall apart in our country.    Anytime I spoke of my feelings, out came the racist card.  This wasn’t the country I grew up in.  What happened to it?  Where did it go?

Finally it’s time for Obama to be gone.  Who does the Democratic party choose?  Hillary Clinton.  HILLARY CLINTON!   The woman who lies upon every breath she takes!  The woman whose husband made a mockery out of our Country when he wasn’t having sex with “that woman”, (I remember the testimony)  but then we learn of a blue dress, stained with his semen.   I’m only going to mention the cigar.  To bring such dishonor disgusted me.    Only to have them steal the good silverware and more when they left the  White House.   How does one conveniently forget this?   Or the accusations of rape?   All these women coming out of the woodwork were silenced.  How?  Hillary Rodman Clinton, that’s how.  The list is long and distinguished, as well as the list of mysterious deaths around people she knew, worked with, starting with the first she had supposedly had an affair with.   But let’s drop all that.  It’s okay.     It doesn’t count.  Because Hillary is the next best thing to sliced bread!   Well, good for you, but don’t expect me to jump on your band wagon liking her, believing in the persona she showed to the public.  Do some research and if you have guts enough, you may just find out she wasn’t the “good woman” she portrayed she was.

You know what?  I have a lot of democratic friends.    And since deciding not to vote for the scandalous, vicious, lying woman that LIED TO US, made up a story about a video on You Tube that had provoked the “problem” in Benghazi.  LIED!    Four good men died that day.  Not just died, but BRUTALLY, horrendously, in a manner that I hope we will never see or hear about again.   I don’t have the energy to bring up the deceit that surrounds this woman, I only mention a few, to make a point.   Because I opted NOT to vote for her, and I voted for  Trump.  In my eyes he was and still was the best candidate.  That’s my opinion, you’re entitled to yours.  But what you aren’t entitled to is to plaster your views all over my property!   Why is this so hard for people to understand?  It’s simple, if you want respect, give respect.  But I confess,  I’d vote for Charles Manson before I’d give another vote to a Clinton.  Just saying.

Now, as I speak out about how this political narcissistic woman (who screwed Bernie, by the way, but again, we can forget that…) I then became a misogynist,  a bigot, and Mrs. Clinton herself labeled me a “deplorable”.   Let’s not forget that I’m a xenophobic!    Interesting.    Interesting because all the while I was researching, and making an educated decision on WHO to vote for, my eyes couldn’t believe what I was reading, seeing.  This woman is calling ME a deplorable?   Seriously?

Now we have President Donald J Trump.    Who isn’t taking any salary!   Really?  And those of you who THINK you are spreading the truth with your belligerent stance “not my president” on your facebook?   Put your money where your mouth is.   ACT.  Contact your state government, do something!  But to sit and berate daily, and drag us all through it with you, it’s long past ridiculous and I’m long past patience.   And those of you (media, and some folk) who support the left who are making up lies, (and mind you, I’m not even going to touch what I think of Obama or his wiretapping games.  He, the Saint who is now collecting major money for speeches.  How does that grab ya?)    What is he speaking about, how to divide a nation?   Because he’s good at that!    I’ll give him that one.)   Donald J Trump did NOT divide this Nation, he inherited it.  And the hatred that we are seeing from the left wasn’t brought on by Donald J Trump’s presidency, it revealed it!

A couple of my many gay friends who I stood behind and beside since their early teens, at a time when it wasn’t so acceptable, they were the first to name call, unfriend me.   Remind me why we were friends?  Because friends don’t do that to other friends.    The last unfriend came a few days ago after I clicked “like” on Donald J Trump.  This was from a guy with political intentions and whom I really believed in, believed he could make a difference, but what does he do?  Threatens the new President in such a post that I was embarassed for him.    “If you come for this, if you come for that..”   Now I believe he would fit very well in the political arena.  Why?  Because he cannot be friends with me because I don’t see things his way.  Oh yes, by God, we need another politician with this attitude!    Good luck to you, and I’m upset with myself that I’m even disappointed in who you turned out to be.  But I guess we’re even, because according to your views “You’ve showed me evidence and proof of Trump’s whatever, I don’t even know what to call it, other than calling Trump all the names I’ve been called, and on my facebook pages!  Not just personal, but my business page.

I still stand behind Trump.   He is OUR President.    And did you notice all those “celebs” who were going to move out of our Country if he got elected…. which ones have moved?????  NONE that I know of.     So much for taking a stand!  Your words mean nothing, NOTHING now.

I haven’t seen President Trump take any gay rights away, have I missed it?   I haven’t seen him do half the things that were largely blown out of proportion by his “haters”, including the media.  And ya know?   “Haters” is putting it mildly.    As much as I, (remember, the racist?) hated his policies, I wasn’t disrespectful.   I waited for his term to be up and helped place the person I felt was best for the job.

Now not only am I all of those names, but it’s in my face every day.  Everyone is afraid to say anything because Lord only knows what will come of it!    I just can’t believe this stuff.   I mean if you’re in college and you have to miss time because Trump was elected?   Life is going to eat you up, because I’m here to tell you?  Life isn’t easy!

Today I deleted someone that I love dearly from my facebook.  I did that because she came and posted insulting comments.   I’d read her posts, wonder why, now that she is married and happy, why would she posts daily about “not her president?”   Truly the quality of her life is more than just hating Trump.  Where were the pictures of husband and wife doing nice and fun things together?  Truly, she can see beyond the lies and hatred that is coming from “the tolerant ones”?   I guess not.   So, sadly I unfriended her because if she can write those things on my facebook?  “Yikes, Donna what happened to you?   Donna I feel sorry for you in so many ways” (trust me, she wasn’t sorry because my situation warranted sympathy.   A friend wouldn’t do that.   Accepting that is very painful, but it will be okay.

Oh?  You should know,  I have been a registered Democrat since I was 18.   I voted for Bill Clinton the first time, and I voted for Obama the first time and I voted for Bernie in the Primaries, even though I do not want to see socialism in our country.  I don’t think we can afford it.   MY OPINION.  This week I will be going into Town Office and changing my party.  And other than writing a blog about my feelings once in a while, and an occasional post on my facebook,  I’m not in anyone’s face about it.    I don’t unfriend people because of their politics.  But I do unfriend them for treating me badly!

So, not only did I lose a friend today that I’ve known since the 80’s, but I also went to see my girlfriend who I mentioned in my last blog, and her family was there saying goodbye to her.    It hit me.  I couldn’t talk to them long, and I couldn’t stay, I fell apart in tears.    It’s happening very fast.   And while I pray for her, that God will be merciful, and won’t let her suffer, I wanted to sit with her again, I wanted to laugh with her again.   Because her laugh was contagious.   And I had a lot of fun with her, and when I was struggling through depression, she was right there beside me.

I had dropped off her favorite donuts the other night, she was asleep.  I didn’t want to disturb her sleep, but I left them on her table.    I had hoped, and still do, that I could get her favorite Chinese food, because eating, and unhealthy eating was something we shared.  We have the same demons here.

So now I cry, and my tears fall on the canvas I’m working on.   It’s okay, it’s fruit, it looks like dew drops.    And I’ll cry for the loss of a friendship that I hope to always hold dear.  And I will.   I’ll get beyond this.  It’s like a death, you make resolve with it only because you have no other choice.   The missing never stops, but somewhere along the line of grief you have to accept it.   And while it’s sad, I feel good about making the decision to not accept her remarks.     As mentioned above, my patience has worn thin.  When a left wing friend starts talking on my facebook page, I’m waiting for the insult, for the refute, because it’s been eight long years of this name calling.    And not yet six months since Trump took office.

Even if I didn’t like President Trump, I would support him.  But I DO like him.   I don’t like things about him, but I believe in his abilities, and I believe our Country needs this administration financially.    I think it’s time for all people, all parties, to put differences aside and do what they can to make this country work again.   Healthcare?  Needs to be bipartisan.   The post that brought the end of the friendship was actually about getting involved, not just bitching, but doing something about the things you don’t like about the bill.   It’s not good for me, I will make sure my voice is heard.   BOTH SIDES, ALL SIDES need to come together for this healthcare bill.    But for some reason the left doesn’t quite understand that the right?  Has the same needs there.    As if this was put into play to destroy or kill them.   Such drama, such bad drama?   Doesn’t fit into my life now.    I’ve survived a whole lot in my life,  and by coming through it, my view is different, and that’s a good thing, regardless of who agrees or disagrees with me.   My views have value, I’m not a dumb uneducated woman, and nor am I any of those names I’ve been called.   But stand up for yourself once?    You’d think the world fell apart.

So once again, if you can’t handle what I’ve said about your candidates, please do the kind polite thing.  Just walk past this.   Why do the left feel the need to plaster their views and thoughts on everything?   And mind you, I do not mean to group all Democrats into the same bucket, I apologize if I did that.   That would be a bit ironic, considering what I’m complaining about!  But for those of you intolerants?  Those of you who think it’s okay to abuse the rest of us who don’t agree with you? Those very people who will read this and say “listen to the whiner?”   I’m not a whiner.  I’m setting boundaries.  Unless you can respect me and my views, as I will you, then please move along.  God help you when all the trials and things come out about the wrong doings that have gone on in this country.  It will come.  The truth always comes out, and when it does, where will you be?   I’ll be right here, speaking my truth, and respecting your rights, is it to ask for you to respect mine?

Furthermore?  I think it’s time for all to stop looking at your rights, and defending and drama about something that isn’t even happening, and start asking yourself this:

“Ask not what you can do for me, ask what you can do for your country!”     It’s called patriotism!

You have my permission to share this, if you want.    I know I’m not alone here.

 

 

Acknowledgement

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For those of you who have experienced the loss of someone close to you, you will understand what I am writing about.     It never goes away, at least not for me.

Fourteen years ago today my kid sister died at the young age of 38.   She had been diagnosed just ten months before with Ovarian Cancer.   I’m not sure what hurts the most.   The journey through it, where we did our best to comfort her and bring her to any treatment allowed, or the endless missing.  I think it’s the missing.

Fourteen years and I still cry when I acknowledge this.  But if I don’t, it makes its way through illness or pain, so it’s best to nod to the memory than deny it, at least for me.

At 37 she and her partner had just bought a house and had moved in just two weeks prior to the emergency surgery that was previously scheduled a week or two later.   I remember it all so well, and I’m trying hard to not go there today.  To just honor her, and tell you what a great person she was.

I can tell you that she worked very hard and knew how to play.  She had a boat, snowmobiles, a toy for every season.   She loved to fish, to play sports, and was a natural athlete.   She had an old soul, I think about this often, wondering if this played a part in her short life.  A natural observer, she was always warning me when to shut my big trap, or when I had gone past “obnoxious” she called it.   Laughter through tears is my favorite emotion.  It’s one that I experience a lot when I think about her.

One would think that after fourteen years you wouldn’t on occasion say to yourself “I have to call her, and tell her this!”    It happens less each passing year, but it still happens.

She was my dads bud.  I mean that with every part of my being.  She loved hockey, she loved fishing and shared these things with our dad.   We all share memories of this with her.   It was rather comical last year when my father admitted one day “Okay, Darlene was my favorite”.   The three of us laughed until tears came out of our eyes.  “What?”  “I’m sorry” he said.   “Um dad, we have known this FOREVER!”    I think he really believed it would shock us.   NOT.   I was sitting beside her on her couch the day she learned she was not going to recovery from this, and she called dad to tell him.  “I’m sorry, dad, I’m so sorry”.

So it was on this day that my, our lives changed.  For years I described things as “happened before she died, or happened after she died”.   I didn’t mean to.  It was just a game changer.    My life changed.  I changed.

I remember asking my cousin Marie, who came down to sit with me just hours after I learned she had died “How am I supposed to stop loving her?”   “You never will, Donna” she said.   How did she know?    It was through my sisters death and living life without her that I learned, love doesn’t stop just because someone you love died.   Nor does life stop, as cruel and vulgar as it seems at the time.   “How can the birds still sing?  How can people laugh, how can anything go on when my life has just come to a screaching halt?”   But it does.  But I have learned something beautiful within all the sadness and that is that love doesn’t ever stop, for me it continued and miraculously grew and still does, all these years later.

So on this day, I acknowledge that hope changes.   At first you pray for a cure, you pray for treatment to work, and then when that stops working, you pray for strength and a new doctor, another treatment, and more.   That is until you realize the suffering is going on too long, and you start to pray for God to be merciful with her, with them.  Please, take her soon.   Yes, hope changes.

I miss you every day.  There hasn’t been a day in fourteen years you’ve been gone that I don’t think of you.  You are part of me, you always will be.    I can still close my eyes and see your face, the little tiny mole above your eyebrow, and see that beautiful smile that radiated wherever it was shown.

Time does teach us how to coexist with such loss, but it doesn’t heal the broken heart.  I think because even when you pray for an end to the pain, and there is relief when that happens, the missing?  It never stops.

 

(end note:  I wrote this and posted it on 4/8 but for some reason it’s showing the 9th which I find interesting, because I actually found out about it just minutes after midnight on the 9th)

 

 

Rambling…..

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Another Christmas over, a new year quickly approaching.  Early December I celebrate my birthday, and while most of my life I haven’t liked being “a December baby”, I like that it is just a couple weeks before ringing in a new year, and assists me divinely in reviewing and renewing my year.

This has been a great year for me.   In January I went on an amazing cruise with my best girlfriend.  Spent time in Old San Juan, visited St. Croix, Barbados, and more.   It was great.  I came home to new windows, thus a new home, and new outlook.  This summer I spent time in Maine (Love New England, perhaps that’s why I’ve always lived here?) and got to spend a week with my siblings this summer, and visited my dad.

I travel taught, and in my home studio a few classes, and rang in another year cancer free.  (The Lucky 7!).  My mother and brother survived another cancer (both their third), and all in all, I’m really in touch with what is important to me.  Have been doing some soul searching as to what direction I would like to go in 2017, of course, all dependent on what my maker has planned for me.   But I have some really nice thoughts and plan to focus on the positive, and I have a lot of positive in my life.

I’ve come to realize (finally) that my life, my purpose isn’t any greater than anothers.  Ego baby, ego!  And while I know not if I have purpose now, for the most part, I’m happy with who I am, where I am, and in what direction I want to head.

I appreciate the little things in life, some that unless you’ve struggled financially, or with some things that I’ve gone through, you may not appreciate.   Likewise, in reverse.   I met a financial goal this year that was two years in the making.   It was not easy, but I succeeded, and I’m pretty pleased with myself.  Still, humbled in life, and feeling very grateful for my abilities, for all that I have (and have worked hard for).  I know that I’m blessed with much.  Gratitude.

I redid 75% of the inside of my house, with my moms help.   It’s looking great!

I’ve also been looking at how I am planning for my own future.  I question whether I’ve become complacent in my relationship status of single.   I don’t think anyone sets out to be single for 11-12 years, but during this time I’ve grown so much.  A friend told me how much I’ve matured.  Hey, it’s overrated!   But seriously, I do not look to another, and certainly a partner to make my life better, I look to myself.   It’s like looking to someone else to make me happy, content.   I have made myself happy.  I’ve had pain, but it doesn’t define me.  I have grown to understand its existence, and I live a pretty happy life!

For the most part, I live a pretty peaceful existence.   While many tell me I spend far to much time alone, I shrug my shoulders.  It is within the time that I have spent alone that I have been able to define myself.  When involved I tend to become a caregiver, and lose my identity.  But I’ve also been involved with men who really haven’t been able to provide stability, I’m very aware of that, and these men were men that I chose, and would not again.

Yeah, I’m pretty happy with myself.  I need to lose weight, I need to get working on the book I promised myself I would do before I die, and I chuckle at how I think if I don’t write it, I’ll live longer!  But most of us know it doesn’t work that way!  If I died tomorrow, my six -seven years of blogging will have to account for the book I never finished.

Each time I see my dad, and I see how much he’s aging, and failing, I cry when we part ways because I don’t know if I’ll ever see him again.  While that’s not a great way to think, it’s practical, he’s in his 80s.  He has lived longer than either parent.   I don’t think I will live as long as my parents, my mother who is three years younger than my dad.  I don’t dwell on death, but I also don’t fear it.    Grateful for that.

And I think that 2017 is going to bring another one of my favorite things…. to be knocked out for surgery. I absolutely LOVE this.  I do.  99, 98, 97…

Hope you had a great holiday and wishing you a Happy 2017, if I don’t write before  then!  Shine!  Let yourself shine, even if you’re being dished crap.   Because it’s all over so quickly.

Love to you!

Like sand through the hourglass

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The past couple weeks I’ve had to take a hiatus from working on my house, given that I lifted my mantle off the gas fireplace and wrenched my back.   So I have found myself sorting, tossing, and thus, revisiting my life with notebooks of writing, poems, boxes of pics, and more.  Where the hell did the last 54 years of my life go?

Further depth came after the tragedies in Orlando.   I will not even go here.  I will say that I have been and am praying for all those affected by such monstrosities.   I am saddened beyond words, of what has and is transpiring in this country, in this world.   I pray for ALL of us.

But I will admit, there is something more going on with me.   I don’t fully understand it, nor am I questioning it, but I am at peace with so much, even in spite of all that is going bad in this world.   I FEEL something coming.   I have random thoughts of what it may be, but I’m not going to go here either.  What I want to share is, I’m accepting myself for who I am, where I’ve been, and finding peace with all that I wanted to be, do, but probably never will.

While looking at pictures from my past, I feel the moment, I recall the times, the feelings, the good, the bad, and the beautiful.   I am aligning with who I am.   And while I want to lose 75 lbs, and more, I am finding peace even with that.  What if I don’t?  Do I want to spend another minute of what’s left of my life worrying about or condemning myself for NOT  BEING PERFECT?

It’s interesting, the story of my life told in pictures.   I have known great love.  I have known great pain.  I have accomplished a lot on my own, without formal education, and I have met SOOO many wonderful people in my life.   Many friends have come and gone, and that’s okay, it is just the ebb and flow of life.  Today, tonight, as I write this blog, I am right with all that has transpired in my life.   I have found peace, and for that I AM TRULY THANKFUL.  If my life ends tomorrow, I am okay with it, because this place where I am is amazing.

I am grateful I was there with my sisters through the illnesses that stripped them of life.  I am grateful that I spent almost a decade of my life with a man who shortly thereafter, drank himself to death.  I am grateful for this “fat” that encompasses my body, because it helps me feel protected from an uncertain world.    Feeling safe anywhere today, is a big thing.   But most importantly to me, I am thankful that I am a good, honest, hard working person who finds pleasure in the simplest of things, in nature.   I don’t spend my time wishing I was in a relationship, or with anyone else, I am happy with my life.   I have learned the most through every tragedy and laughed immensely through much.

In many ways, where I am right now reminds me of surviving and completion of treatment for breast cancer.  It was freeing.   I had (and still have) no room in my life for luxury drama, or bull shit.   It’s actually a little frightening how vocal I can be now regarding this.   The tiny filter that I once had is almost entirely invisible now.   The older I get, the freer I feel about speaking my truth.

Long gone are the days when I worried about someone liking me, or what they thought of me.   I’m right with myself, with God.   I’m right where I’m supposed to be, and it feels good.

I hope that you are finding peace in your life.  I hope you are, too, realizing how precious life is.   How every second of every day is not promised to anyone, and in the blink of an eye your life, and those lives around you, can be altered drastically.  Anyone hearing of the massacre in Orlando, can you help but think this?

Sending you love, light, and as I mentioned earlier, prayers for the world we live in.

 

Happy Birthday, my friend

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We were so young when we met.  My God, were we ever that young?   The first time I met her she came to my house with my brother.  Dressed classy, wearing a very wide brim hat, my brother introduced her as his date.   I laugh when I think of this, because I know her very well know.  She has this one look where she puts her head up in the air, as if daring fate to come get her.    At first I thought she was a snob.  I suppose that is why I laugh when I think of that face.

A disastrous marriage to my only brother, two sons that have brought so much joy to my life.  A friendship that has spanned over broken relationships, deaths, 30 years.    She was more than my sister-in-law, she was my friend through so much.   The laughter, the tears, the fears.   We have helped each other walk through some very painful parts of life.   And more important than that, we have LAUGHED our way through it.   Things that you never thought you could joke about, become humorous with someone who knows you like a book.

As years came to be, and she shared of her childhood, struggles, I grew to respect her more each passing year.   It isn’t easy for someone who has been walked over, to stand up and fight back.   But she has.   Stereotypic essential relationships that should have gifted her with confidence, esteem, and overall sense of self respect delivered exact opposite, or was meant to.   I witnessed things over the years that made me so sad for her.   But also, made me love her all the more.

After the divorce, and a bitchy evil “step mother” stepping into the scenario, I was summoned more than once to cease my relationship with her, after all, we were no longer related!    But that only served to set my heels in deeper.  Why would I sever a relationship that was essential to me?  Why would I sever a relationship based on lies that were being told about her?   More than once, more than a handful, I got into shouting matches with my family.   I was the bad one, for keeping up the relationship.   Shaking my head.    Yet it was this woman who stayed up with me ALL night, for months on end, playing Literati, helping me walk through some of the hardest times of my life.  No, I guess we were no longer related, but we were friends.  I know we will always be friends.

I have seen her shape from a broken uncertain soul, into an amazing woman.   Now a grandmother, she and her husband took a plunge and moved across country.  I encouraged her.  It was time.  Always a mother, she would still be available as she was when near, and this day and age of technology, a phone call can now be face to face, expressions inclusive.   But it was time for them to do for themselves.   I don’t think it was an easy decision, given the level of family commitment they have, but it was a good decision, for all.

I’ve watched my nephews mature.  They are GOOD human beings.  I’m proud of them.   Was she a perfect mother?  Why YES ( 🙂 )…. who EVER is perfect?   It’s impossible.  We are designed to be perfectly imperfect, she, no exception.    For whatever she would do differently today, she taught her children to NEVER GIVE UP.   It is okay to take a couple day sabbatical, but then?  Then you get up, and you start over.   Defy the powerful forces that had great potential to tear flesh, break your spirit.   Put your head up high, and walk however you must towards self love, acceptance, success.   Stick that nose up in the air if it helps you walk through fire, whatever it takes!    This is why I smiled at the beginning of the blog.  That snobbish look she can give, I know what’s behind it.

She has walked through fire.   She has taken my hand and walked with me, through fire.   I am in awe of her strength, and the person she has become.   I’m proud of her and what she has done with her life.  She is courageous, intelligent TO A FAULT.   I don’t care if her last name has changed, or where she is in the world, she will ALWAYS be my sister-in-law, and she will ALWAYS be the mother of two beautiful souls that I love dearly.   I am grateful for her existence in my life.

As typical, I sit here with a sign from above.   I am laughing, because I smell birthday candles.  I have actually gotten up and looked around my house to make sure there is no flame anywhere.   I bet you I know who is sending you birthday wishes from the other side!   The same person you drove 3-4 hours in bad weather to say goodbye, who adored your boys, too.  Or maybe?   It’s the person who I know loved you deeply.  The woman who I know you loved dearly.   I know when she died you were broken, felt like the truest form of love you had ever experienced had all been lost.  But it wasn’t!   You passed on what she taught you to your boys, and I know will, your grandchildren.   She exists in you, and no doubt, is very proud of you.

Thank you for all your love, support, friendship, hours spent listening to me.  Thank you for loving my art, for caring about my family in spite of all the difficulties in the past.   Thank you for sharing some of the BEST belly laughs I’ve ever had.    I am grateful for your existence in my life.  I am grateful for you.

On this day I want to wish you a very happy birthday.  You deserve the best.  You have fought your way through much, and you are still standing, as beautiful as ever, with the best looking legs I have ever seen on a real person!    Have an awesome day!   I love you, and I look forward to many more years with you and our “boys”.

My kid sister

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51 years ago today, a beautiful soul was born into this world.    She was as cute as a button, and a very happy baby.darlene3 001

My sister had an old soul.   She was chronically wise.  A natural observer, she would often sit back and watch me open my big mouth, or do something that would inevitably get me into big doo doo’s.   We were 2.5 years apart in age.   When it came to common sense, she was born with it.

She had the biggest brown eyes, beautiful woman.   She had a great smile and she wore it more than most.   She was a happy person.  A hard worker, who equally played hard.   She lived wisely, she lived well.

It has been twelve years, maybe more since she was taken out of this life, too young.   Too young.   But when I say that, and I do feel that way, I am reminded of one of the many trips to Dartmouth Hitchcock for treatment, when we walked into the chemo ward and there was a child, a baby really, being infused with toxins to save his life.   “I guess I don’t have anything to complain about, do I now?”    I think of those words often, not to dwell, but to remember her strength, and to learn from her courage, her wisdom.

She died 10 months to the day of diagnosis, ovarian cancer.   She was 37 at diagnosis.    As I sit here typing this, all these years later, the journey through treatment, the painful truths that were worded carefully, revealing her fate, fills my chest cavity with void, with pain.    I don’t believe I will ever “get over” this.   And that is okay.   Death is a part of life, an important part.   I have come a long way in my grieving.   I seldom cry anymore, tonight I am.    Because I’m remembering the difficult journey she walked, and she did it amazingly well.  I never heard her complain.  Ever.  Please don’t say “I’m sorry”.    I was so fortunate to have known her.

I remember walking into Higgins Hospital in Wolfeboro NH, she was getting a transfusion.   I walked into her room, and she was white as a sheet,  double fisted in pain.   I asked when her meds were due.   “I could have them at 3pm” (it was 3:45)   “They’ve been really busy”.    I stood up, walked out into the corridor and down to the nurses station.   “My sister is in pain, her meds were scheduled for 45 minutes ago”.   “Yes, we’ll be right there”.    5 minutes later, 10 minutes later.  I walked back out into the corridor, this time offering no kind tone “MY SISTER NEEDS HER MEDS….. NOW!”     Within a couple of minutes she was given her meds.      I sat beside her bed, rubbing her arm, talking to her, trying to distract from what was obviously horrendous.  But you don’t really distract from that, do you?  Can you?    “Donna?”   Yeah, I said.  “Thank you”.    If you knew my sister, this spoke volumes of what her pain level was.   She didn’t like discord, and certainly didn’t want to ruffle any feathers.   She would roll her eyes at me when I would.   Night, day.

This woman meant the world to me.  If you have sisters and are close, I needn’t say more.  She lives on, in my heart, and my memories have faded some, but not drastically.    I can close my eyes and envision her sparkly brown eyes that lit up our fathers eyes, soul.   I remember that she didn’t like to try on clothes, so when we shopped, I would slide the pant leg up my arm.   If it came to the end of my fingers, they would fit her.   Laughing now.

Sometimes I think about the loss I have experienced, and I am not seeking sympathy, but reflecting on my life, on the lives of those I’ve loved and lost, and I just cannot believe I survived it.   But when I wrote her eulogy, I vowed to live every day of my life to the fullest.  I wanted to live a good life, to live a purposeful life, in her honor, in her memory.   Sometimes I think I’ve fallen short, I don’t think she would agree with that.  Sometimes I feel my best isn’t good enough, and it is.   I can hear her saying that to me.   “It is!   All you need is encouragement”.

So on this day, her birthday, I am going to do something kind for another, randomly, for her.   And I am going to do something kind for myself.    I am a better person for having her in my life for 38 years.   I know I, we, truly were fortunate to have her in our lives at all.   She was everyone’s favorite.

If you want to do something kind for another today, in her memory, I would love that, she would love that.  Remember, kind can be just a smile!   I will light a candle, and I will follow the ritual I have done since she passed.   It is a special day.   Today, 51 years ago, a beautiful soul was born into this world.  I know, because I was fortunate and blessed to call her my kid sister.  Today I, my family, will celebrate her life.

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My dad

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In a couple of months my father will turn 81.  My father, a Navy vet who served his country, sent home money to his parents to help raise his younger siblings.  He is one of six children, the second oldest.

He and my mother had five children together.  Their oldest, my sister Karen, took ill at the age of six with meningitis. From that diagnosis she spent months in a coma, came out of it with the ability to only move her eyes. Intensive rehab brought her back from that, but she started seizing, (Seizure disorder) having numerous grand mal seizures a day, which reared her paralyzed on her left side, unable to speak, walk. The seizures slowly and continually kept taking from her.

My father became an apprentice, and learned to be an incredible carpenter.  He did this so that he could build a home for us.  He (and my mother) built two beautiful homes. He worked more hours in one week then I’ve probably ever put into a job in a month, and I don’t consider myself lazy.  A very meticulous carpenter, and a house filled with four other children, weekend runs to pick up my sister and bring her home and back, proved difficult for everyone, including Karen.  The more seizures my sister had, the more it took from her.   I cannot imagine having a child and having such an awful thing happen to her.  I cannot imagine what it must have been like having made the decision to turn your very ill and medically needy daughter over to the ward of the state.   I remember judging my parents.  Asking them “If I get sick, will you send me away, too?”   Now I cringe at the very thought of asking that.  I cringe at the slightest thought that they could have chosen better.  Who the hell am I to ask such a question?   How much their hearts must have hurt.  But responsibility of four other children, and having worked night and day to pay off medical bills that today would have been covered by insurance, my parents made a difficult choice.  A choice that I believe was right for Karen.  A choice that I now believe gave me and my siblings, a more “normal” life.  If you can define normal.

My father has a wonderful sense of humor.  My whole family does, really.    And no matter whose company I am in, it is with my family that the laughter is the strongest, loudest.   I learned at a very young age that laughter heals.

My father became a plumbers apprentice and then went on to work for a company who sent him (foreman) and his crew many hours away, which they drove back and forth each day.  My father made a good living.  We always had a balanced nutritious meal on the table, a warm bed to sleep in and even “space” of our own.  We never needed for anything, and were taught that it was because of my fathers hard work, that we had the good life we had.    We also were taught that we lived in the best country in the world, and that our freedom is due to the many men (and now women) who served our country, many whom never made it home.  It’s sort of ironic how the man who gave most of his life to a job for his family, had at one point became invisible, absent.  But working for this company enabled him to give his children a good life, a good start.   His absence was only because he was working to give us this.  The company didn’t appreciate him.  They offered his little for pension.  But he kept going, day after day, for his family.  I know not how to live so selflessly.

He was our loudest fan at softball games, my brothers hockey games.   I always knew I was loved, and while I didn’t agree or like some decisions he made, including ending a 27 year marriage to my mother, I humbly have long since realized, I have no right to judge him or her on that, either.  What do I know about

He and my youngest sister, Darlene, were particularly close.   He admitted to the three of us remaining children last year “Okay, okay, Darlene was my favorite!”   He looked at us like it was an awful thing to say, only to find the three of us bent over laughing.   No shit, Sherlock!   The truth is, they were great buds.  They fished together, they did so much together.  It is nice to look at pictures of the two of them together.   The way Dad looked at her, she was “it”!   And this is not to imply he doesn’t love us, or look at us with swelling pride.   They had something very special.     I remember sitting next to my sister when she made the phone call to dad to tell him that her cancer treatment wasn’t working.  She said “I’m so sorry dad”.    I recall a conversation she and I had, one of our last and she said “You know Donna, he came to every ball game of mine”.  She was talking about after my parents split.  “He would get there late from work, but he always came”.   I am teary eyed thinking about her smile when she said that.  For whatever he didn’t do right (you know what I mean), being her loyal, faithful fan made it ALL right.  My sister was an old soul.  There was and would never be any jealousy there.  She was ALL OF OUR favorite.

I’ve spent a lot of time reminiscing of late.     I do not know what it is like to be my dad.    I know what it is like to watch him age, lose physical and mental strength.  I sometimes have to look away so he doesn’t see my tears.  And yet, I know how very fortunate I am that at the age of 53, I still have both my parents.

I always thought I knew it all.   And for a long time I chased “his approval” foolishly.   That ended about a decade ago when I was unpacking my van, having been travel teaching.  He was helping me.  I pulled out a new painting and he looked at it, didn’t say anything, just looked.    I was tired, disappointed that he didn’t respond the way I wanted him to.  “Am I EVER going to do anything that makes you proud?”  I said with the sharpness of a razor.  I will never forget his expression.   His jaw lay on his chest.  It was that very moment I learned, my dad would probably never shower me with the compliments the way I once wanted him to, but he was proud of me.  And the chip I had on MY shoulder that day, hurt my dad.   “Of course I’m proud of you, Donna.  I love your artwork, I think you are very talented and I’m proud of all of my children.”   I have not, nor will I ever again question his pride for me.     I am SO over judging my parents on anything.  Thank God!   And now, I am working on doing the same for myself.   The crap we get into our heads!  It’s static!    It’s all just frigan static!

It’s funny as I age and realize just what an ass I have been in my life.  I’ve put my parents through some major worry, particularly when it comes to depression and mental illness.  I remember my second hospitalization.  My sister was with me at the phone.  She had brought me a teddy bear, I named him “Arthur”.  I think I was 24.   “Dad, I need to tell you that I’m in the Brattleboro Retreat.   I am getting help for my depression”.   “You have to pull yourself up by your boot straps Donna!”.   Of course I took that wrong, and he, being the age group that he was, wasn’t as educated on mental illness as he is now, 30 years later.     I was so hurt and angry.   Now I know, in HIS head and heart he was fearful.   My father “pulled himself up by his boot straps” over and over and over his entire life, to give to his children.    His heart, his head spoke from his experience in life, to hide the fear he had of what I would or have done to myself.  He wasn’t judging.  He was saying the only thing he knew to do!

I’m not sure why it’s taken me all these years to figure out how intelligent both my parents were and are.  And as I watch them losing ground, I am fearful of losing them.    I’ve been single for over a decade now.   My dad has always been there for me, to help me in any and all ways he can.   “I’m sorry, Donna, that I was focused on your brother’s education, and not yours.   I ignorantly thought that you girls would be taken care of, in marriage”.      There was once a time, and probably too long a period of time, that it angered me that I was raised with this mentality.  That the only way I would have a home is to have a husband.   But that has long since passed.   I am responsible for my choices.  I am responsible for marrying children, two of them!  I am responsible for where I am in my life.   If I had to do it all over again, I would have sought out college.   I know I could have made better choices for myself, could be financially secure, but I’ve also come to realize that even that isn’t as important as being a good person.   Doing my best, day in and day out, and living within the morals that I was raised and were taught.    The day I bought my house out from my ex-husband was one of the proudest days of my life.  I AM responsible.   I AM who I am because of the stable childhood I was blessed with, I learned the importance of family, and while I have no children or even husband of my own, I sometimes think about how difficult it is to keep my head above water.   I take pride in caring for and giving my animals a wonderful home.   And that is NOTHING compared to what my dad gave.    I am the strong woman I am today BECAUSE of my experiences.    I understand, now, why at the age of 30 when my 10 year marriage ended, how come that was so hard for me.  Because I felt like I was nothing without someone.    Oh my god have I grown.  Thank God!    And for all the things I thought my mom or dad did wrong, they did TWENTY TIMES that right!

I’ve watched my parents bury two daughters, their oldest and their youngest.  No parent should have to bury a child, but sadly, well, too many do.  I’ve watched both my parents battle cancer, and seen the anguish and hell it brought them to watch their three remaining children battle it too.     My dad has not had an easy life.  Like all of us if he had it to do over again, I’m sure he would have made some different choices, but my dad?  He’s only human.   My dad has led a good, honest life.  He knows what it is like to work hard for your family, to start over, and he will always remain “our father” in worry for his children.  My dad, what a great human he is!  He is visiting with my sister right now in NC.  I know he chose fathers day visit to mask the fact that I am his new favorite!   🙂

I have been blessed in life with an honorable man as my dad.  He really is my hero.    I am very grateful that I have had 53 years with my dad.   I am the good person I am today largely due to the good person my dad is.  Thank you dad.  I love you and you will always be my hero, and I, your little girl.

It comes down to this?

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Yesterday while driving home I could see a rescue vehicle coming towards me, in the opposite direction I was traveling.  I pulled over and stopped.   It’s not only the law but the right thing to do.   I held my breath as I looked in my rear view mirror.  There was a line of cars behind me.  How many would not pull over?  How many would speed by me in excitement of ‘getting ahead’.   To my satisfaction and surprise every car behind me also pulled over and stopped.   I sat watching this, teary eyed.   First off, I’m a sap and I have been extremely sensitive the past couple of weeks.  Also, I found it moving.  It reminded me of being at a funeral and how you stand in respect, watching the casket be loaded into the hurse.   It is showing great respect, acknowledge of, a tribute to the person whom has passed.   This rescue vehicle was answering a call to someone in need, someone in trouble.   Everyone who pulled over and stopped was paying tribute to, and respectful to whomever it was that was in need, and their family.

A couple of years ago I was on Long Island with friends.   It was a Friday night, we were heading out to eat.   Behind us were blaring red lights and sirens.   My friend who was driving did as he was supposed to.  He pulled over, stopped.  The cars that were behind us and in front of us did not.   I was watching this in shock.  Really?    The rescue vehicle went up on the median and was trying to make his way through the intersection.  These cars could have cleared a way for it, but they did not.  I was disgusted.  What if that were their wife? daughter? father?  family member?   There is a word for them but I’m trying not to swear as much as I do…. May the force be with me!

For the past week my mom and I have been cleaning out my uncles apartment.  He was a tidy meticulous man who had order in all areas of his life.   That was the easy part.   But the stuff that man had was unbelievable!  8 days of sorting, bringing stuff to the hospice thrift shop, taking home a few things we wanted in remembrance.  Today we finished it up.  Hallelujah!    I still have some odds and ends to unpack from the jeep, but I am absolutely thrilled this chore is behind us.     

We found 6 electric shavers, 12 pairs of sunglasses (including womens), 14 clocks including a couple right out of the 60’s and 70’s.  When he replaced something he would not part with the old.   It was funny, actually.  He also had been on a spending spree because we found a lot of new things.  Hey, good for him!  He started to spend money on himself!  This is a man who could squeeze poop out of a buffalo nickel!   The first couple of days I was sad, upset.  Is this what it comes down to?  Your family cleaning out your earthly possessions?  Obviously we can’t take anything with us, so why do many place importance on material things?   I took a few things, a couple clocks which were worth little but they will serve to remind me of my Uncle daily.   My mom took her mothers dresser, solid oak, and a few pictures that had been her mothers.  We found pictures of us here and there, he still had a painting I did for him, and a Christmas wreath which he had stored ever so carefully. Also was surprised and pleased that we found the book I had authored in 2003. Sweet!

As nice as it was to find unique things, it was always difficult for my mother.    I did my best to ignore the bossiness, the short comments that at one point in my life would have hurt.  I felt the need to stand up for myself a couple of times, in which she realized she was out of line.    She is relieved that this part of Hank’s death is behind us.   We still have the burial and there is still things pertaining to probate.

My mind and body are tired.   I was about over this two days ago.  I wanted it to be done.  Sort of like when you are leaving a job for a new one and you have the 2 weeks notice to work through.   That’s hard.  You just want it over with to start anew.

As I bid farewell to the sweet apartment, nestled by a beautiful and sometimes treacherous brook which housed my Uncle for the last 20 years of his life, I smiled. Someone else will be moving in, starting a new life there. It’s a sweet apartment, I’m sure they will enjoy it there. Well, the day is still young and the sun is calling me outdoors.    Hope you are having a great day, and I hope you, too, are enjoying beautiful weather. ♥