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.

will it ever Really end?

March is tough on me.  March 9 years ago my world fell apart.  But, its nine years ago.  things are better — so much better.  there is no tangible, recognizable remnant of the hell that time represented in our lives.  and yet, March rolls around and I tense up.  My stomach hurts, my anxiety rears its head and I worry.  I call way too often, stretch for reasons to check in….consider medication…or a strong martini….

Will it ever end?  How long does this veil stay over the joy that Spring should bring?

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.

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.

A good cry

Today I had a good cry ( as if there were such a thing…). Damn facebook got me again.

I have written about my son’s marriage.  You dream about your kids getting married, and if you are smart enough, you realize it is their day and will probably not be exactly what you planned.  And, you are okay with that, for the most part.

My son married a woman that doesn’t like us.  Period.  Finds fault in everything, yells, curses and stews like noone I have ever met.  And, loves my son, his daughter and works hard every day. Fights her own demons Im sure == and ignores us, rather than engaging in more drama.

Its a trade off, but for now, its working.

But today, facebook took me back to a video of a young couple’s wedding entrance.  Dancing, hugging, sunglasses.  Music, joy, laughter — bliss.  And I sobbed.  Yup, sobbed.  Pent up tears from their wedding 10 months ago?  Triggered by the happiness on the screen?  Maybe.  Mourning what could have been?  Probably.  Joes friends, and my sons in law would have loved this == I can picture each of them shaking down that aisle, celebrating.  But, it didnt happen.  Instead it was a “vanilla” wedding — banned from the bridal party, the celebrations and the preparation, our family attended, but did not participate.  And while we were there physically and in spirit, it was a sad day for the right side of the aisle.

And today it kind of hit me.

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.

Soft edges….

Friday night had a soft edge.  Freed from babysitting we jumped at the chance to sit on a deck at a local pub and nosh on crab dip while throwing back a shot or two of tequila.  The air was sweet with Spring and we watched the sun go down. Our need for sweets took over on the way home and we stopped at an ice cream place, one of the ones where you stand at the window and order.

Standing behind the young dad with the coupon and the 50-something lady with a need for butter pecan, we waited,snuggling a little.  A group approached, 6 or 7, obviously siblings or cousins, related — sharing that banter that only people who love each other very much, who have shared thousands of moments –can.  As they pointed at the sign that says “free ice cream if you’re shorter than this” I had to laugh, and get in the conversation.  The one trying to be “shorter than this” was at least 6’8″ , and I felt the need to tell her that “we could fold you in half and you wouldnt be “shorter than” that.  A great conversation ensued, she was from Atlanta — where they didnt have WaWa, but do have waffle house ( waffle waffle waffle house…), Bobby is her brother, she is staying with him, the little sister ( probably pushing 40 ) was “not like dad, we’re all tall, all 6 of us, but her, shes short”.  More conversation about the sign, and how “little sister” could probably make herself free ice cream sized with  a bit of effort.  Then, I had to ask — “what brings you here to our town?”

The laughing eyes sighed, the smile weakened.  “Our dad, our father passed on Monday, we’re having his services tomorrow, Im going home in a couple days”.  And, as I said I was sorry, as I looked each one of them in the eye and told them I felt their loss, that I had lost my dad 4 years earlier, I felt the edge, soft as it was.  They were a bunch of brothers and sisters, sharing ice cream and laughter, probably as they had done with their dad many times.  They were sad, but they were together, and I couldnt help but feel blessed that I got to see that — the way they returned to familiar things, missing dad.

This night

This night, exactly 8 years ago, was probably the worst night of my life.  worst.  my baby, deeply entrenched in illness, came as close as anyone could ever come, to losing her fight for life.  And she was fighting.  Fighting me, fighting her dad, fighting herself.  But this night, tonight, i feel none of that fear, that all encompassing terror that comes from the inability to make a difference — I feel peace.  Triumphant peace, as for the first time in 8 years I didnt need to see her, to touch her, to hold her, to know that she is all right.  It seems, finally, that we are both healed.

Confess…I must

DSCN9866So, my birthday was Monday.  i have never been an “it’s my birthday, celebrate me for days” kind of person, but like most people, I appreciate a hug, a card, a gift.  I look forward to a day of “wow you’re awesome” — sue me.  I’m a little self involved.

But, i digress…

Last Saturday we received a phone call that our daughter needed some back up.  Son in law had an emergency work trip.  So I packed up a bag and headed over.  A three week old, two year old and four year old makes for a hectic house, I was happy to help.

But, as the weekend progressed and my birthday loomed…I realized that my other two hadnt called, hadnt arranged to see me over the weekend …. no cards had come in the mail, no flowers delivered.  Moms feelings were hurt.

I took a break from grammy care and went home Sunday.  Lay on the couch and had myself a good cry.  Feeling exceptionally sorry for myself, ignored, taken for granted, you name it, I felt it.  then my husband came home with the only ugly coat that London Fog had ever made, in a bag, for me.  No way, take it back.

coerced my husband into bringing up the first Christmas tree.  I always have the angel tree up on my birthday.  spent an hour setting it up, plugged it in, 2 sections of lights OUT. Of course….

So, here it was, the day before my birthday.  There was no party, no cake, no Angel Tree….poor pitiful me.

Dragged my sad self back to daughter’s house where her kids presented me with a couple of great cards :  signed by them!  and a picture that the two year old had drawn of a rainbow.  That helped.  At least someone realizes…..grammy needs a cuddle.

And then the palooza began.  Youngest daughter, husband ( during an eagles game!) , her two kids, my husband and my inlaws descended upon us.  There was CAKE!  and Cards and drawings from the babies…..AAHHH…..

What was it i was whining about??