chillin with Ava

Tonight I went to my son’s house and spent some time, just talking with my granddaughter.  We have seven grandchildren, blessings all, and I am fortunate that I get to see them each week, they have grown up surrounded by grammy and pop’s arms.

Tonight I needed some time with Ava.  It was a horrible day.  The air hung heavy with the killings of two black men, a friend of mine was arrested for a horrendous crime…..I felt dizzy and dark and so so sad.

But Ava and I went out and played with the fairy garden for a bit.  and then we went up to her room and looked in her treasure box and talked about life, and disney world and summer camp.  and nothing.  just talked about nothing.  And I was so happy that her world is still full of enough light that she can just do that.  Spin in her chair, make fun of my singing, and hug me with those wonderful little arms when I have to leave.

Thanking God tonight for my babies.  Praying that we can find a way to change this path our society seems to be running down.

 

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She’s in

mom is in the Assisted Living home.  She has a sweet little apartment, complete with refrigerator and microwave, coffee pot and toaster. And most of her beautiful stuff, her antique desk and her grandmother’s rocker were the first pieces of furniture we brought in.  I had them all set up before she came into her room.  It made her smile, and I like to think, gave her a sense of home.

I am left to clean up the mess that was her home.  whenever you walked into moms it was dark.  Since I was a child she avoided turning on lights in the house.  her home always looked neat and tidy.  When we began to ready her move and I had to open drawers and cupboards I found out that she has kept every piece of paper to enter that house since dad died over 5 years ago, along with a multitude of bills etc. from when he was alive.  And, among these bills, checks, receipts and contracts, I found no less than 15 letters and notes   where she detailed a variety of wrongs my brother and I had done to her.  Hateful notes full of self pity and accusations of neglect and anger.  Not one, not ONE of them spoke of her great grandchildren, or her grandchildren.  Of visits to dads grave, or shopping trips or Christmas meals.  None of them spoke of her sorrow at dads passing or her memories of their past together.  Each was a scathing hit at one of us, or dad. She kept one from 1956 that she wrote to dad, a private note between a young wife and her husband, full of hatred and threats.  And they were scattered throughout her troves of papers.  You couldn’t miss them, and, for all except one dated October 2012 and the one written to my father, you couldn’t tell when they were written.  And even if now she doesn’t remember they are there — if her fog is that deep— when she wrote them, when she placed them in with these papers, she knew we would find them  .  She wrote them to cause us pain. We were meant to find them after she died, when we couldn’t confront them or her, when we couldn’t question her or dispute.  She wrote them to cause us pain.  What a pitiful, angry life.

And a lesson for me to surround myself in gratitude and joy and let the anger and pain roll off. It is just cruel to cause pain to those who love you — and to do it when it is too late for them to make it right.

How did we get here?

We took our five year old grandson to Disney last week.  It’s a tradition with us, once a grandchild turns 5 we take them on a trip — he is the third one, and the second to pick Disney as his destination.

I’m not a Disney girl.  It often feels staged and pushy, the crowds get me confused and I don’t have the patience to wait for 20 minutes ( with fast pass ) for a four minute “attraction” which may be little more than a loud neon painted carnival ride.

But, it seems to be an American Right of Passage and the grandkids love it, so I suck it up and ultimately get pulled into the pageantry and hoopla.  The one on one time with a grandchild is a treat indeed — so I push my cynicism aside and experience the Magic that is DisneyWorld.

Last Thursday evening I sat on the curb, grandson between my knees, surrounded by glow sticks and 5 year olds and watched a High School band march around the circle  in Magic Kingdom.  And, as I experienced and shared the things a child’s life should be made of — friends and music, adventure and accomplishment, Light Sabers and giggles — I tried to wrap my head around the chaos of the news that had come to me from my home town, hours earlier in the day.

You may have heard of, but probably not, Wilmington Delaware.  I grew up here, an iconic place to live, diverse, blue collar, close to the beach, Philadelphia and New York.  My friends and I thought nothing of unlocked doors and late night walks and going to dances to listen to the band.

Lately though, things have changed.  Plagued by violence, unemployment, heroin gone wild, the city has become dark, dirty,  sadness and despair permeate the air.  The news paper and television call it “Killmington” and “Murderville”, guns are everywhere, parents scared to let their kids go to the park, or onto their own front stoops.

And, on Thursday a 16 year old girl was beaten to death, TO DEATH, in the bathroom of her school.  Good God, her school. There are rumors flying about the reason, as if there could be one, or the manner in which the death occurred, but whether her head was slammed into a sink or she was stabbed, whether there were 2 assailants or 6, whether she went into that bathroom to fight a peer or discuss a problem, one thing is certain, she is dead.  All the blue balloons sent to the sky as children yell “RIP AMY”, all the vigils and television interviews won’t bring her back.  There is nothing poetic or symbolic about this.  It is sick.  It is unacceptable that a young person could walk into her school at 7:45 and never walk out.  killed at the hands of her peers, beaten to death.

I didn’t know Amy, I don’t understand the anger that could make you kill someone, and I don’t know how to solve this rage that fills so many of our young people.  Church?  Parenting?  Mentoring?  Hope?  I don’t know, I am so saddened that I just don’t know.

And, as  I sat and wondered, my grandson lifted his head and said, I love you grammy. My joy was muddled with the thoughts of a mother that will never hear her daughter say those words again.

asking…

I stayed home from work today.  Appears I have vertigo — leaving me nauseous and dizzy and wobbly….around noon  I received a rambling text from a former student.  not just any student, this kid was in my class for 6 years — middle school and high school. talented, empathetic, stubborn, ridiculously beautiful, easily led.

She floundered junior and senior year.  her mom got sick, her friends ran wild and she ran with them.  Barely graduated, barely.  Thinking back, they did her no favors pushing her on and through.  she may have benefited from another year of structure.

But it was not to  be.  She graduated. straight into drug use, abuse, addiction.  went to jail, to rehab, to halfway houses, to rehab…..struggled.  got in touch with me when she was clean and then would disappear for months.

Until, around 3 years ago “momma rock, I’m pregnant…hes a great guy, in treatment too, we understand each other…” struggled to stay clean in pregnancy, failed. Baby daddy disappeared.  Baby born addicted to heroin, 3 weeks in a locked ward in the hospital, then sent home with mom — no requirement for treatment or followup required.

For the past 2 years she has been in and out of touch.  mom and I speak fairly regularly.  She asks me to touch base every once in a while, says Kelli feels a bond with me.  Mom has custody of the baby, beautiful 2 year old Kenna.

So, today I get a text.  Asking me to find her a shelter.  Asking me to forgive her, asking me for money.  I sent her the centralized intake number for shelter.  Told her she never had to ask me to forgive her anything, but that I could not give her money.  She typed ” I understand” and not another word.

I contacted mom and told her of our conversation, she thanked me for giving her the number and said, she too didn’t know if kelli was clean or using and that she understood why i didn’t offer cash.

I wish I had offered to take her shopping.  I wish I had been able to drive her to a shelter.  I wish heroin had not gotten ahold, so many years ago, of such a beautiful, innocent soul.

 

 

 

old habits

I had a really rough day at work last Friday.  for many reasons — coworkers, staff, deadlines and expectations all whirled together into one perfect storm that set me off my axis.  Truly.  i struggled with a task the whole afternoon.  The. Whole. Afternoon.  i felt myself obsessing, working in circles, producing nothing but chaos — I shut my door so my staff wouldnt have to endure my mood.  My immediate supervisor said something like “thanks” and I imagined sarcasm, criticism, doubt.

It sucked.  At the end of the day, when everyone should have been readying for a nice weekend, I called a coworker in and said, please help.  I cried.  Cried. the tension and self doubt bubbled over and out and there wasn’t much I could do but wallow.  She was amazing.  Used that voice you use when someone you care about is teetering on the edge of a breakdown.  talked me down, through the problem.  Sat with me for almost an hour assessing, addressing and validating.

When I finally was able to put two words together and she felt it was safe to leave me, I sat at my desk and stared at my computer for another half hour. Enveloped in self doubt and anger. Picked up my little solar turkey and threw it across the room.  then, embarassed, picked up the pieces and tossed them in the  trash.

when i finally got myself together enough to go home and unload on my husband, he said ‘screw em, you dont need that job or any job.  Give your notice.”

Now Im not going to do that, i love this job and have no intention of leaving, but hearing those words made such a difference —

And then I was able to keep the demons at bay long enough to enjoy Halloween and spend time with the kids and my sewing machine…but that feeling of incompetence brought back memories that have laid dormant for years — i didnt like it.  I have to work to make sure i dont let myself go there again.

Old habits die hard.

IT happened Again…

it happened again.  Kids killed in school.  In a community college.  in the center of a little piece of America where people are just trying to do better.  And the news covered it — for a minute.  And the President pleaded with America to fix things — for a minute.  And I shook my head and lowered my eyes in prayer — for a minute.

And today it may happen again.  Or tomorrow.  How do we continue to send our children off to school with this happening.  How do we do nothing.

sweet sweet child of mine

I sit here tonight, after a ridiculously long day at work (another story) and am amazed that my baby turns 30 tomorrow.  This sweet child of mine has been a rewarding puzzle since the day we found out we were going to have a third child. feisty and moody, compassionate and fiercely independent, scared of the dark and protective of all she loves.

Third child in a series of amazing beings couldn’t have been easy.  Val chose to stand out in her own way.  Athletic, defiant, demanding and giving.

College found her attacked from all angles.  people she trusted wounded her — and in her desire to please, she wilted, almost disappeared.  2 months before graduation, she broke, she welded and she chose life.

and it has been a whirlwind ever since.  backslides and triumphs, babies and careers, vacations and long bad trips.

and she survives.  She thrives.  She kicks dust in the face of the naysayers and thumbs her nose at the past.  She remembers, oh she remembers, but she moves forward, always forward….she is my wild child, my punk, my butter, my Valerie.  I love her more than life, I will protect and defend her against anyone, anyone who dares to try to hurt my child again.  Happy Birthday punk,, my sweet sweet child, I love you.

This day…

this morning I overslept.  missed the registration for a 5 k I wanted to walk/run for work.  Bummer.

But, then I went to the park and walk/ran my fastest 1k and fastest mile ever.  Redemption, almost.

After deciding I couldnt deal with my husband’s family this afternoon I went to the craft store, bought a bunch of Fall stuff and visited my dads grave.  And it hit me, all over again, I miss him so much. i valued his opinion more than almost anyones, even when I disagreed, even when the dementia was taking over and moments of lucidity were few and far between, I valued what he had to say.  I can still, if I sit very still, hear his voice, his laughter, his whistle.  Whenever he wanted me, whether I was 100 yards down the beach or on the neighbors porch, he would whistle.  And, I would come home.

Today I sat at his grave and discussed these health issues that are raising their head.  Since they mirror the conditions he dealt with, I asked for his guidance, his help, a little intervention — to get me through.  I hung his new flag, I straightened the flowers, kissed his stone, and left.  I cant say I felt better.  But I felt that he had been there with me.  And I know he knows I miss him.

convoluted times

Last evening I attended, and participated in, an amazing event.  Young teachers and community leaders gathered to gether with youth and had roundtable discussions about education, and community and trust.  I left there uplifted, enamored with the people I had met and the resolve that resonated through the room .   We can make a difference.

And I returned home to turn on the television to see flashing lights and hear sirens.  A mass shooting in Charleston.  9 people dead, murdered at the hands of a young sick soul.  Where does a 21 year old find that much anger and hatred.  How does a church, where people are gathered in prayer, become a bloodbath.  And I am ashamed.  of my race.  of my country for allowing guns to be handed out like Star Wars litesabers, of the future that we are leaving to our children.

and I weep.  And I pray.