Tag Archives: memories

And once again, the pendulum swings

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May has proven to be a difficult month for me.  In between praying for death with an abscess tooth, I have lost two women who were both significant in my life.

First, a woman who was like a second mom to me.  I met her at 19 years of age.  I would go to her, numerous and various times throughout my life when battered by the world and events.     She would help me make sense of it.    When in my early 20s tragedy struck when my brother’s girlfriend was in an automobile accident, killing both her (18) an her 14 years old cousin.)  I went to grief counseling, I went and talked to a couple pastors, none offered me the acceptance that came until I spoke to Judy.   I will never forget her words, that just helped me through this difficult time.  “What makes you think God only wants to be surrounded with old souls?”   I think of this statement whenever I hear someone young has died.

Judy was an intelligent woman who kept up on world affairs.    She loved her family, her partner, her friends, and I was so fortunate to be one of them.    When she smiled, the world smiled, it was such a nice scene.  I hope I always remember her smile.   She encouraged me, time and time again, and guided me (when asked) throughout my life.    I remember learning after stopping by to see her, that she had metastatic breast cancer.  I stuck pretty close to her after that.   Weekly contact, visits when I could.   I am so grateful that I did this, now.   I wanted to help her, as she has helped me throughout my life.  She was wise, patient, and incredibly kind.  She was so good to me, and I miss her horribly.  I can’t think of her without tears running down my face.  I know time will help me learn how to live and accept life without her, and she always told me she would always be there for me, even when I couldn’t see or hear her.  How blessed I was to have her on my side.

This morning I learned that my 90 year old mentor and friend, Barbara passed away.   It really hasn’t fully sunken in yet.    You know that protective denial we are sometimes gifted with when the pain is more than we can bear?   Barbara was an amazing artist, worked in several mediums.   She had traveled a lot, had seen so much in her long life.  I loved hearing her stories.  She was always so generous with sharing them.  The small town we live in will undeniably feel this loss, a community will grieve together.

Having only high school art class as education, I learned so much from Barbara.   She had a keen eye, an eye that instantly told me where my artwork needed work.    She was so creative, always painting for charities, for fund raisers for her beloved church, and writing articles for the Historians, or papers.    She had presence.   When she would attend my art classes, my students would look at what I did, then they would look over to Barbara to see what she did!   It was comical.   “When are we going to learn what Barbara just painted?”     I liked to jokingly take credit for all her artistic abilities and talent, I am smiling recalling this.   She taught me, and many of my students so much.

It’s been tradition for over a decade now that we would have a private ornament class, she, her niece, and myself.     The last time was in October of last year and I remember when her niece and i were looking at Barbara’s finished ornaments and realizing how much she had lost.  She was seeing things differently, forgetting, and i know that moment when we both saw this, we both started mourning for her then.   It is so sad to see someone you love with failing health.  It was hard to look at her last ornaments and not grab them to fix them.

I could go on and on about both of these beautiful women.   And I will in separate writing.    I am going to be 58 years old this year, this is the time when “losing people” typically begins.  It’s a cold fact of life, but it doesn’t make it any easier.    When I learned of Barbara’s passing I wanted to call my mom, she passed last year, and then I thought i needed to call Judy, who just passed two weeks ago.  My life as I know it, and the luxury of having these quality women in my life has changed with both their passings.  You always think you have more time…  at least I did.

So today, I just want to talk about these losses.   To suggest to you to reach out to those you love, even if for a brief phone call or visit.   Time waits for no one, and while both of these women lived much longer lives than others i have lost and grieved for, their presence, their smiles, their strengths and weaknesses will be forever present in my heart.    I know I am a better person for having known both of these women, and I know I am a better artist for having studied with Barbara for several decades.  How fortunate I was, how fortunate I am that I will take all they gave to me with me as I face the future without them.   Right now it seems fairly dark, but I know, this too shall pass, and the many gifts they taught and gave me, I will try to give to others.

As the rain falls outside my window, it matches my emotions.   Today is a hard day, May has been a tough month, and life is so short.    The pendulum of life and death has hit hard this month.   And this, too shall pass.

 

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Triggered fear, thoughts, and angst

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Today has been a challenging day.    I needed to have a medical test, which I have postponed once and really didn’t think it was a big deal until it was time for me to prepare for the test and go.

An unexpected spiral of anxiety and fear overcame me.    It was only then that I realized I was afraid.   I am very rarely fear filled.  Many moons ago I taught myself how to put, right in front of me, whatever it is I am afraid of, and then address it, as best I could.

I believe there are more than one kind of cancer “survivors”.   Not just the person battling the disease, but those who are left to find peace with their passing, should that unfortunately happen.     And it happens too many times.

Today for me was a combination of thinking about my moms passing a year ago last month, and my kid sisters passing many years ago in early April.    When you go thru cancer with not just one, but every one of your (siblings) and parents, it may seem like it would get easier.    But it doesn’t.   For me, I remember every “meeting with surgeons’ on loved ones.    I played the eye dodging game with them as they came to tell me or us the results.   These are times you will sadly never forget, particularly if the prevailing news is bad news.   In that few seconds of seeing her surgeon come out to look for me, I flashed through this with my mother multiple times, as she had started her “undesired” intimate rounds with cancer 17 years before she passed.

I listened to her doctor, and she asked if I had questions.   So doing what i do best, laying it out there honestly, boldly, pulling that fear right in front of me I asked questions that made her literally flinch.  “You’ve been through this before?”  Yes, you could say that.  “These are not typical questions asked to me after surgery but that doesn’t mean they are bad ones either!’    TELL ME, NOW.   What does my loved ones (and mine) future look like?  Is it the arduous, time consuming and soul shaking walk of more surgeries?  chemo?  radiation?  What is the treatment, and please God let there be treatment!     AND THIS WAS ALL IN MY HEAD from years PAST!

BACK TO THE FUTURE:  I knew I was unraveling, i was feeling light headed, sweaty, and filled with fear, forgetting to breathe, this does not happen often.  it has happened probably 6 times in my whole life to this degree.  All I could think of was that I needed prayers, and the fastest way for me to get them is on social media.  I have many, many. lovely, “friends and family” who are very generous with their prayers,  I KNOW prayers make a difference.    So I spilled my guts on my fb page, sharing that which I had kept quiet for three months.    The highway becomes convoluted with memories of past tests, results,.  and not to mention the 10th anniversary of my own breast cancer diagnosis is coming up quickly.    I was blindsided today.

What’s different? Why am I feeling so afraid?  Why is this simple test sending me closet to wearing tin foil hats?   After posting I pulled it together, and drove to the hospital for the test.  My legs were shaky and like rubber, I felt a bit like Gumby.   What the hell is this fear?  Once in radiology I sat and found my foot tapping quickly, picking up speed when they called my name.    Let’s get this done!

The test was really no big deal.  It took about 40 minutes, and the technician who did it was a very passionate woman who loved her job.   So during the test I was preoccupied with conversation with her.   The worst was behind me.   “I’m breathing, I’m breathing”.  Following a friend drove to NH with me to pick up something and our conversations are always interesting, honest.   When I finally got home I laid on the couch and prayed, meditated.     I pay a price for worry, and my body was “not my friend”, but is quickly becoming whole again after doing what I need to do for myself.

Now the waiting game?  The results?  One good thing about exhausting myself today is that I have NO ENERGY whatsoever tonight to even think about results.   They’ll be what they are, and I know I’ll hear from my Drs office within 48 hours.  I have got this covered.

I’m not usually dramatic.   If anything I downplay my feelings, I have my coping mechanisms.   But what I was able to really grasp tonight was, that I no longer have my mother to help me through whatever it is I am going through.  I’ve never been sick without my mother.   I have been feeling the stress of managing a home, yard, on my own. The list of to dos is long and distinguished. My mom did A LOT for me, she was always puttering in my yard, she loved doing so. This year all these tasks are solely mine. So Yes, at 57 today, I reverted to fear, unable to decipher what it was I was afraid about.  Tonight I accomplished such.

Not my best day, but no way near my worst!  A  bit embarrassed about online drama, but those who love me will forgive…

Have a great nights sleep!

One Year Anniversary

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Today has been a hard day.  Although not as hard as it was one year ago this evening,  when my mom took her last breath.  I was blessed with my mom for over 56 years of my life.  While not every moment was hugs and kisses, that long span defined our relationship, mother and daughter, and friends.

For the first time this morning, I sat and read all the comments friends had left on my facebook page one year ago today, about 600 of them.   I knew I didn’t have the strength prior.  Crocodile tears were in abundance.   With some, telling the honest to goodness truth about this “passage of life”, “Donna, you will never get over this, you will  think of her everyday and you will miss her everyday, but I am here to help you”…  They are right.  Never in my life will I stop missing her, and everyday of my life, just like I have with both my sisters, and Jim’s death, I will think of her, and I am very grateful for that.

My mother was quite a character.    People, friends would tell me how strong I was, and then they’d meet my mom and smile “Omg, I can see why, now!”   I am smiling.   My mother’s strength and love had carried me through a lot in my life, and throughout HER life.  You never know what a person is going through, unless they tell you.  My mother kept a lot to herself, as do I.   She never liked that I blogged, because she felt I put too much out for people to read or see.   But writing, sharing for me, is how I get through. “Mom I wouldn’t blog about my sex life, even if I had one!”   She would roll her eyes and shrug her shoulders, head out the door to the gardens that she so lovingly cared for for decades.      How grateful I am, today, that I had my mom as long as I did.

“A strong woman looks a challenge dead in the eye, and gives it a wink.”   – Gina Carey

My relationship with my mother was strong, complicated, ever changing.   We argued, we made up, we argued some more, we laughed.  We were always “doing something”, because my mom could not sit long.   Unless she wasn’t feeling good, and then you’d find her cozied up with glasses on, nose in a book.   She helped me with my studios past and present, renovating my home, and it didn’t matter the dozen or less times we weren’t speaking, if I needed her, all I had to do was call.   She was amazingly resourceful, I have never known anyone (but my father) who had the talent to fix, repair, replace ANYTHING!  Except of course, addiction and alcoholism.

“The heart of a mother is a deep abyss at the bottom of which you will always find forgiveness.”  – Honore de Balzac   

Like many of us, moments from my childhood reared pain in maturity, but I had long since forgiven my mother for the manner in which she treated me, because maturity showed me my own imperfections, and I not only loved my mom, I liked her.   I wanted her in my life.   So in my late 20’s after years of “therapy”, I forgave, and freed myself of the disappointment, harm that I believe only happened because of the hell she had lived through.   I still struggle daily with self defeating behavior, but it’s all mine.  I am the only one who can change that, and someday’s I succeed, other days,  not so much.

My relationship with my mom in my 40’s and 50’s were the best.  Both single, we looked out for each other in a world that wasn’t always easy to exist in.  A therapist once described my relationship with my mom as “spousal”.  I laughed.   Um, no, CLEARLY she was always the mother!   And I smile.   We spent a lot of time together, enough that I know I will for the rest of my life have memories of her, us.   I could go on and on pages long, of the countless things my mother did that helped me, but I’d rather save them for the days ahead when I need to remember them.     In my 40’s and 50’s she was my greatest support, particularly when she gave back the care giving I did for her through her cancers, and she, through my own.

A friend said to me after she passed “Donna, I knew your mother had been through some shit in life, I knew it just by her stance alone “Don’t mess with me!”   I laughed and nodded.   Like mother, like daughter there.    Our lives ran parallel in many ways, both affected by another’s alcoholism, both betrayed in marriage, both creative souls, financial duress, heartache and disappointment.   There were times we laughed so hard I had to go take a shower, because the tears ran down my legs.   One way we did differ was when I would do something REALLY stupid (and that happens a lot) the first thing I would do is call my mom and tell her.  She would say “And don’t go sharing this with everyone either!”.    But of course, I did.   As soon as I hung up the phone I called one of my girlfriends and share my stupidity, because I learned long ago how to laugh at myself, and my many true friends love to laugh as much as I did.  Laughter is healing, and my favorite emotion is laughter through tears.    I had a lot of these with my mom.

There were horrific times in my life, one being when I found out Jim (love) died.  I drove from Watertown, NY, stopped for a 2 hour visit to see his parents outside Albany, and my mom begged me to get a room for the night, I lied to her and said I would.   A few hours later when I arrived home (was bad driving conditions) she was up, waiting for me.  “I knew you wouldn’t do as I asked!”   We sat up that night and talked for hours, and hours, and hours.   We both cried that night.   I was sharing the agony of knowing he had self destructed, Jim was a good person, we had a nice life together, but his alcoholism was a deal breaker.   That night, as I shared about my conversation with his parents, I knew then, my mothers tears weren’t just for me or Jim.   I believe she grieved for her brother, and his children,  to whom they lost to alcohol, too.   It was an area of her life that she rarely spoke of.   It was then the first time I realized, all the times that she watched me walk through the talons of alcoholism, she didn’t offer any advice, only offer to help where she could, and of course, prayers, except the last event when I told her “I need to tell him to leave.”   She then encouraged me to remove myself from the now alcohol ridden relationship,  and did all she could and more, to help me through this difficult time.  How many times did my words or my actions hurt or recall pain from her own life?   But my mom just silently dealt with it on her own.  We spoke usually daily, and it was a rarity when she wasn’t at my house at least once during the week.   She co-owned all 5 of my animals, as she took great care of them (and my home, when I travel taught).

Over a span of 17 years, there were numerous trips, later on to Boston for her surgeries, and trips to chemo, and doctors.  It was very hard to be my moms primary care giver.  Our last trip to Boston was straight out of hell, and I told her on the way home after complete emotional breakdown pulled over on the side of a road at 1am in Boston, “I can’t continue doing this mom”.   For a while I felt guilty about it, because I knew, when I could no longer do the long trips to Boston with her, that the disease would take over, and that is exactly what happened.  That’s a very hard reality for me at times, but I know, I was a good daughter to her, and I did everything I could and then some.   My own health issues needed tending to.   But through it all, today I am nothing but grateful that I was there for her, and I did all that I did for her.   I will carry this with me throughout my life’s time.

I recall being admitted to MGH (Mass General Hospital) for cellulitis.  This happened after an exchange surgery (reconstruction for breast cancer).  I had left the house that morning telling her not to worry, they were going to give me a shot in the ass and send me home with a bottle of bigger pills!    I called her, crying, could barely catch my breath “I’m being admitted”.   You are what?    “I’m being admitted”.    “Omg, okay, are you okay?”   “No, mom, I’m scared”.    “It will be alright, Donna, we will get our prayer warriors right on this”.   Also recalling seeing my doctors face color and expression change as he lanced open my right breast right then and there.  “Am I going to be alright?”    “I don’t know, Donna, but we are going to do our best and you will be in patient for awhile”.    “Mom, I am going to be on Bigelow 9” (Ever seen MGH, HUGE! I was on the 9th floor of Bigelow building).   “Gigolo what, Donna?”  BIGELOW MOM, BIGELOW!

It’s been a challenging year.  When she died the next day, the world felt different.  I no longer felt brave or safe.  How could I?  My greatest protector was no longer here?   A friend asked me if it (grief) was harder than I thought it would be.  “Yes, yes it is”.  Having the sad experience of losing my oldest and youngest sisters to cancer, and Jim to alcoholism, I knew it would be hard.  I just didn’t know exactly how hard it would be.

A few years ago my Uncle, her youngest and only living brother of 3 passed.  We needed to clean out his apartment, and notify next of kin.  We had four cousins we only saw when very small.   We needed to send them paperwork, so I found one cousin on facebook, I will never forget the day we, she learned, that her nephew, Brady had died of cancer.   Her face turned white.   She took a deep breath and sat down at the table in my studio.  Clearly distraught.   We have a couple gene mutations in our family, and are a gene pool you wouldn’t want to swim in.   I knew what was going through her mind was hard for her, like maybe SHE DID give us the mutations.  She uttered some words softly, one being her brother’s name, and her nieces name, and then headed out to the gardens that brought kept her busy and brought her peace.  I will never know what she was thinking, but I knew it was quite painful for her.   This was a really hard night for both of us.   Nor I or my siblings ever asked either parent to be tested, and we certainly didn’t look to them with blame.   They too, were victims.  But I sometimes would find my mom quiet in reflection, and I know she struggled with the idea that she may have passed down her cancers to us.

I know she is with me.   She will always be with me.   I talk to her daily, and while I have received “signs” confirming so.  Today’s sent me to tears yet again.  I am trying to finish the last project we collaborated on, a victorian desk, and somewhere between A – Z, I had lost the front plate for the keyhole.   I looked in my pocketbook 3 times.  Nothing.  I called my girlfriend, it wasn’t in her car.  I was ready to head back out to Home Depot where we had gone and I realized I hadn’t grabbed my phone.   I prayed to St Anthony, and asked my mom to please, please let me find this plate.   Two seconds later I slid my hand into my pocketbook to get my house keys (which were my moms set), and out with them in my hand was the keyhole plate.  For me, that was a sign that she is with me.   I find comfort in that.

“Her damaged petals are what made her more beautiful than all the other flowers”-  a.j. lawless

I was not easy to parent, so I’ve been told.  And she wasn’t an easy mother to parent in later years.  She was stubborn, impatient, hmmmm sounds familiar?

“My mother had a great deal of trouble with me, but I think she enjoyed it”.  – Mark Twain

 

On Love

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Today I want to talk about grief, and love.

I’ve felt “off” for a couple of days now.   But there is a lot going on around me, which has resurfaced old memories, feelings, and emotions… Are they one in the same?   My father hasn’t been doing well.   He is having “spells”, falls, and as a hard working man, he cannot find acceptance with the fact that he cannot do the things he used to do.   And since our moms passing, he has been talking often about his youngest daughters ashes.   They reside with her life partner, with instructions for nieces to scatter the ashes upon . her partners passing.    I’m not going to get into it any deeper than that, but my dad never liked the fact that we didn’t “know’ where her ashes were.    My sister and I never doubted the significance that would be placed on these from her partner, she’s a trustworthy person and was broken into pieces when Dar died.    My sister (only sister I have left of 3), took it upon herself to get in touch with her, and my dad will soon be receiving some of our kid sisters ashes to put in his creel, as was originally planned when she died.   I am on overload, sensory overload.   Flashes and images coming back from that time in my life, painful, painful memories on so many levels including many people, including my sisters partner.    So I have been, not purposely, revisiting all that, and then having just buried my moms ashes, it’s become very clear that I will never again see my mom.   There are no words.    Sporadic crying jags, the heavy feeling in my chest, and sorrow, grief.    I’ve now lost my mom and two sisters to cancer, my father had cancer and so far so good, the three of us children remaining are all cancer survivors and carry gene mutations which has also been resurfacing.  It has never gone “away”.  It will never go “away”.  It’s a fact of life for us.   Ohh, and add to this a canceled oncology appt for me this week because I hadn’t slept and wasn’t up for the drive to Bean town!

Nothing I can do or say will take away this turmoil I’m feeling.   I just know that it will pass, relief will come, and I am really looking forward to that happening.  So, being kind and nurturing myself, i spent the day listening to music.   I am so very grateful for music, art.   If I attribute my depressive disorders to that of an artist (hardly famous), it makes it a little easier to walk through.  Creativity is vital for me.  It might as well be a vital organ because without it, I will fall flat and refuse to get back up again.   And yes, i am stubborn.

Tomorrow I am picking up my bff who is flying in for a 10 day vacation with me from Omaha.    She was supposed to come a couple months ago but because of work it was delayed.  I AM SO GRATEFUL, now, that it was delayed because I pick her up in a few hours.     My home has been filled with family and friends for the past few weeks… MORE GRATITUDE.

My pcp told me I need to find a therapist.    So I bought a BOSE revolve wireless speaker.   I also sent my dad home, two weekends ago, with my Bose Wave radio and cd player.   A thank you to him for introducing us to music.   My family has an above average love and need for music and in our last childhood home there were five stereos at one time, all different music.    I was grateful to hear that my dad spent a day last week listening to music, and ON THE BOSE.   I know it will help him, I have wanted to do this for a while, but my WAVE is seriously one of my most prized possessions.    I didn’t know if i could do without it, but when I saw the shape my dad was in, there was no question what I was going to do.   So my sister and i packed it all up for him.    His sister had burned him a lot of cd’s so he’s enjoying them now.  It’s funny how little effort it takes, when we love someone, to give that which we love, but know will help them.  It was the right thing to do.

I haven’t finished writing what i wanted to tonight, but it’s going to have to be enough.  Thanks for reading my blog, and for all who do, I wish you a pleasant, peaceful day and sleep!

Mothers day

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Today we celebrate Mothers Day.  This will be the first time celebrating this since my mom passed two months ago.    I’ve been thinking about how I could honor her, how I can transform the emptiness in my heart that I feel for her.  My world will never be the same, and that is okay.  Death is part of life, I have learned this and have had plenty of opportunity to practice it’s presence.

My mom was the strongest person I know.   A friend said to me the other day “I remember your mom’s stance, that alone told me how strong she was”.    I nodded, and spent some time pondering this.    Without a doubt her stance was tough.   She was unafraid to address anyone or anything, and that was pretty amazing.  Sadly it was because she had been through a lot in her life, she knew pain intimately, and at 80 she didn’t mince words.   At 80 years old her demeanor, her stance could easily be interpreted with these famous words “Go ahead, make my day!”

I have a cousin who was born with cleft pallet.    Medically the professionals were ready to insert a feeding tube (60’s small town care).    My mom stayed up for two nights designing a bottle that would work for her.    She succeeded.  I did not know about this until after she had died.   I wasn’t surprised to hear this.  My mom was a very intelligent woman who read constantly, chose books and reflection over television.    She could’ve been so much more than just our mom, or somebody’s wife.  In fact, she was so much more than that.

She was a voice for those who didn’t have one, or who were too weak or afraid to talk.  She was a pillar of strength and determination when it came to solving difficult problems, and a force to be reckoned with when it came to her family.    She instilled in us the importance of family.    She was benevolent when it came to her skills.  She loved to bake for others, surprise them with pies, and she made a kick ass crust!    She would do “whatever it took” to get things done, and help her children with whatever they were dealing with and in a way that she would inevitably take over, which today I can think about and smile, at various times in my life I sometimes wanted to smack her!   (I am a passive person, trust me, if I hit someone it was because they deserved it, but I never hit my mother).

Spring was her favorite time of year.  She had a green thumb, loved the outdoors and nature, and would come in to tell me every Spring which plants survived the New England winter, with a childlike wonder that always brought a smile to my face, she was joyful when gardening, grooming the yard.  Once a year, when the budget allowed, I would take her to her favorite nursery for Mother’s Day and she would run around with a cart and choose whatever she wanted.   She LOVED this.  These times were wonderful, though the dogs would be bored waiting in the car, and then highly annoyed with how little room they had to maneuver in after we loaded all the plants!     Then there was the planning of where to plant all that we bought.  She would ask my opinion, and then do whatever she wanted anyways.   Again, today I can laugh at this, but there were times we had words, and I would ask why she wanted my opinion when she never considered it?    It’s amazing to me how humorous I find this today.  Absence makes the heart grow fonder?

I often would  pick her up for appointments or visit her with a Dunkin Donuts coffee and two old fashioned donuts, her favorite.   She would eat one and feed the dog the other.    The other day my side kick and I went to Dunkin’s and they informed us when we ordered an old fashioned donut that they were no longer making them!     For me this was a sign that my moms time to die was right on schedule!   I say this lightly, honestly.   I know an average person would shrug it off, not me!

In my early 20’s I was going for a job promotion and was feeling nervous about mathematical testing for such.  My mom met me in a bank parking lot, with pad of paper and pencil, and taught me (retaught me) about fractures.    I aced the test!

She loved her grandchildren, great grandchildren and great great grandchild.  But her first loyalty was always to her children.   It would upset her if she saw inequities or any of us being taken for granted by their children, or mistreated by them.     I was childless, so the focus was on the spouse or partner, and believe me, after 3 long term relationships with alcoholics, there was plenty there for her to decipher or dislike!

If there was only one thing (which is not the case) she taught me, it was every day you get up and dig in, get busy and do what is in front of you.   I think about this everyday, particularly when I’m trying to talk myself out of bed!

She swore like a sailor, and one time my sister and I were counting how many times she said “the f word”, she asked what we were counting… “26, 27, 28, 29….”, the usage quickly added us as we exited the house!

I am my mothers daughter.    She taught me by example so many things, a few that I’m going to pass on sharing, but for the most part today I will think of my mom and smile, welcome the tears that will fall, and are falling, as I face this first “mother’s day” without her.

Happy Mothers Day, to all you mom’s out there.  Hope your children do something kind for you, and if they aren’t able to for whatever reason, I hope you can find joy in their memories, or the love that being a mom taught you!    I”m a mom only to four legged critters, and I am a good mom, at that!

 

Cds, cassettes, lps, dare i say 8track?

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I was going to work on writing up and illustrating a painting lesson tonight, when I got side tracked on YouTube.  Now I have been on YouTube to find out how to fix my washing machine, break open a safe (hey, it was cool!) but I really haven’t been on it for music in almost a decade.  Wow!   Where does time go?

I was happy to find Bob Seger, because you can’t find his on Spotify.   And it brought back fond memories of my teens, and the music that spoke to me and played loudly while I cruised throughout the Town.

Yet further down the road, my 20’s, my 30’s, when my sister would come visit, she would snag a cd, leaving the cover empty, and for me to find later!     That girl had probably 12-15 of my cd’s including and not limited to:  Harry Chapin, Bob Seger, Tina Turner.     My favorite cd’s.

The other day I was going through my collection (long standing collector of music which started at the age of 15 when I bought my first pioneer receiver).  It cost about $600 then.  I’ve long since replaced them with Bose.     But what I found were the empty cd cases of the ones my sister had stolen.   And I say that lightly.    She could afford her own, she just liked to do this!   I shed a tear or two, because she died over a decade ago, and I held onto those cases because I never wanted to forget her, or any of her little tricks.    Believe me, I’ve learned that I need nothing in material form to remind me of what a beautiful, wonderful person she was.  I miss her every day.

I neatly placed the empty cd cases back on the shelves, because I just love to remember the funny things she did.   Like putting confetti in cards, and crazy little antics that made me laugh.

Life is short, Where did all this time go?   And where the hell did these wrinkles come from?   I still feel like I’m in my teens when I listen to music of the 70’s.    Grateful, very grateful for this form of art and the many artists who have touched me through their words, tunes.

I didn’t get my lesson plan done, but I sure did enjoy the cruise down memory lane!  Do yourself a favor.   Skip the dishes or chores tonight, visit YouTube and go listen to the songs of your youth.  I bet you’ll be glad you did!

 

 

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)

 

 

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.

 

Sophie (Loren)

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It’s not always easy doing “the right thing”.   The past week I have been thinking about a german shepherd that I rescued, and eight months later placed into gsd rescue program.   The past couple of days I’ve been thinking of her non stop.  When I went on facebook tonight, I realized why.  It was one year ago today that I placed her.

I didn’t want another dog, but she needed help, so I took her in.   She was just 14 months old, missing half of her fur, her ears were angry red, she cried if you touched them.   She scratched herself ALL THE TIME.   Sophie had major allergies and did so well on GOOD dog food ($50 a bag).  But I didn’t have the means to give her this.

The morning she left we laid on the couch together.  She rested her head in my chest and just looked up at me with those big brown eyes.   I couldn’t hold back the tears.  Goodbyes are so hard.    In my life I have learned, even goodbyes that bring relief are not easy, and for me, not painless.  I’ve had a few.

I’m trying to hold onto gratitude.   How well she looked, last time I saw pictures of her, and how happy she looked.  She was one smart dog.   She was just so big and strong, and at the time I was having physical problems, well still do, but I remember how bruised I got a couple of times with her.  She didn’t even know her size, her strength.   The fastest dog I’ve ever seen, and my aussie was a tennis ball and Frisbee chaser.  Sophie had it all over him, hands down.

So I’ve shed a few tears tonight, thinking about her, I do miss her.  I never thought I would give up an animal, ever, always had them.   Last year at this time I had two dogs and three cats.  Every woman needs this much responsibility!   Now I have one dog and two cats, and my cats are geriatric.  In fact, my Maine Coon who spends summers outside, hasn’t shown her face in the past couple days.  I am concerned.  But I remember being concerned one time when I hadn’t seen her for a week (We are talking probably 12-14 years ago now), and she came crawling back.  I think she got locked into a building across the road, and finally found her escape.   I am thinking back on the tears I shed that day when she came home, tears of joy.

My little terrier was groomed the other day.  I typically do it.   Can’t say as I like the looks of her head the way it is, I prefer the ragdoll look, but she sure does smell good, and her fur is so soft.   Unlike my aussie who pranced around and thought he was the cats meow after he was groomed, she ran under the ottoman and stayed there for the day.

I know I did right by Sophie.  I know because it was one very hard decision to make and follow through with.  I’ve found that doing “the right thing” is typically the hardest choice, and the most difficult to do!

Time to go to bed, and hopefully sleep will come.   I hope! I hope! I hope!   And I hope you have a great day!

Is there alcohol in heaven?

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Today has been a hard day.  No particular anniversary, minimal physical pain with the exception of that place that resides in my chest and harbors my heart.

My sleep schedule has been largely disrupted, but that’s okay, I am getting A LOT of work done.   What happens, however, is a crash and burn.    But it’s the best sleep next to anesthesia!  I am one who loves being knocked out.  LOVE it!   When my time comes to die, I hope to be wide awake, waiting for that light.

As I slept hard, and what feels comatose, my dreams consisted of people and places in my past.  People who have passed.   Normally I wake up, can shake off the initial pain (remembering… realizing…  reality) and be grateful that I saw their face, eyes, smile, heard their voice once more.  But not today.  Today I am lingering in a world that no longer exists.  My head knows this, my heart doesn’t want to hear it.

A friend, consoling me said “It doesn’t matter how long it’s been”.    I thanked her for that.   No, it doesn’t.    Last night’s dream still has me walking on shaky ground, many hours later.  I know I can’t go back, if I could, I would’ve by now.  Someone I need to walk through this day, embrace what is, be grateful for what WAS and is, and let it go.   But that’s much easier said than done, at least today it is.

I wonder, is there alcohol in heaven?    Hiss at me for suggesting such.  But when you’ve loved and lost someone who is or was an addict, there is some peace in knowing, their fight, their plight with their demons has passed.

We drove past a church where a service was being held for a young man who died of an overdose.    My heart hurt for his family and friends.   “His mother said there is some peace in knowing, it’s behind him”.  I nodded, thinking about what I said above.   Yeah, I said to myself, and I pray that it will carry her through the hard days ahead.

To grieve, to mourn is not anti God.  It is not a horrible thing to do, and while it is hard, for me, apparently today, it is necessary.   For those who have on occasion suggested differently or in a bit of kinder, less harshful words than “Move on”, I bid you, how the hell does one do that?

Last night I visited the past.   A past that ended tragically, but one that was also filled with immense love, memories, and some of the best times of my life.   Today I’m trying to get back to acceptance, beyond the pain of loss that revisits on occasion.   I know I will find my way, but right now?   Right now my heart hurts.  I am longing for acceptance, and soon.  I know why I’m feeling this way, I know that I have to face one of my own demons…. fear.  Fear of being hurt again.     But will I?

Missy Higgins “Scar”