It would be easier if…

my kids lived far apart.  If it took a plane ride or a road trip to get them together it would be easier to see them apart.  but it is not space, but choice, that is tearing our family down.  My kids grew up incredibly close.  less than 5 years separated the three of them, and our house was full of laughter and noise and tears and hugs….

They grew up and became adults.  Life got in the way and we had some ups and downs — but they had each other.  we had barbecues and family dinners.  Family vacations when all of us — 12 of us — stayed in one house for a week or more.  Boat trips and impromptu beerpong in the back yard.

But then it changed.  one of them has become joined to someone who has a power trip like non other.  And it has torn my kids apart.  Rarely do I get to see the 7 grandchildren together, to plan a party or a dinner and know they will all be here.  I miss it.  And, maybe it was inevitable, but it makes me sadder than I can say.

Not my mother’s daughter

I am SO not my mother’s daughter.  I tell myself this regularly.  I pray at night that my wish will come true and that I can hold on to the precious few memories of bonding with my mom and let loose of the pain and the wound tight persona she embodies.

And, today I am reminded of just how much I am not my mothers daughter.  Packing one more box for the dual moves we are making over the next month,  I came across two poems written to us by our daughters.  the first, from our oldest, musing about her memories of car rides and long talks, full of joy and melancholy and family.  The second, a sort of apology and gratitude piece from our youngest, who often feels she has to apology for her past.  This is not true, she does not have to apologize.  She is the most caring, involved, loving person I know.  her passion has led her astray a few times when she was young , but she has nothing to apologize for.  her experiences have made her the amazing woman she is today.

But, anyway.  As I picked up these two poems and read them, I remembered the last notes I had found tucked away in drawers and boxes.  The hate filled notes my mother had written for me to find when, she assumed, she was dead and I was organizing her life’s clutter.  I found them early, but their bite was just as strong.

And I am happy that the notes I have chosen to save are filled with hope, and joy and love.  With good memories and praise.  Notes that will make everyone who reads them, now or in years to come, know that this family faced things together, and loved each other through every heartache.  I am SO not my mother’s daughter….

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.

waxing so not poetic

I’m sure the site is bursting with Mother’s Day musings.  Emotionally packed tributes to children, sad accounts of the phone call that didn’t come, hopes for a brighter future.

This is not one of them.  Oh, this is  about Mother’s Day, but it may be a little off sync…

Mother’s Day is not about presents. But, I always get gifts.Some years I have been inundated with handprint pictures and potted geraniums.  Some years the gang banded together and presented me with gift certificates and Hallmark’s best.  A few years back it was a plethora of gym bags/clothes/socks….

But this year was one of those years that demonstrates just how in tune  our kids are with George’s and my life.  Its a transition time for us, moving mom into assisted living, selling our home to our youngest, looking for a small place to live up here.

AND THE BEACHHOUSE.

Our dream — always — has been to own a beach place.  Originally it was supposed to be in Cape Hatteras.  My happy place, the place I call home — where I spent weeks on end growing up.  But, its a bit far from the “homestead” where, for now at least, all of our children live within a 10 mile radius.

So, we are doing it.  We are in process of buying a second  home, at the beach, in Virginia.

And, after the phone calls, the facebook messages, the memories of Mother’s Day past…they showed up yesterday, bearing gifts.  A beach mug for my cups of coffee on the deck, two toss pillows — adorned with sea horse and blue crab, a lighthouse wall hanging, our Initial for the door, and a tropical plant.

They get it.  After the teen years, full of angst and self involvement, after the toddler years where their physical and emotional needs could overpower — they adult up on me and find tangible ways to tell us they get it.

loved and bless, that’s this girl.

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.

spirits and wishes

I have a dear friend who lost her son to heroin three Christmas’ ago.  He had been fighting addiction for years — good kid, good family, bad drug, terrible ending.  Tonight she posted on facebook that she received a gift from a friend to attend a medium’s performance today.  Posted a picture of her and her 3 friends, all mothers of lost children, smiling, you could see the hope in their eyes.

And I realized, once again, how blessed and lucky I am. Today I saw all three of my kids. Hugged and spoke with all 7 of my grandchildren.  Saw my kids with their chosen partners, in love.

But for the grace…you know the rest.  I get to hold my children, all three of them.  Love them, argue with them, buy them things, make them things.  cook for them.  My friend visits the grave, fights the good fight, works to make a difference for other families.  Mourns and misses her son every minute of every day.

I really hope she heard from Ty through the medium.  I hope he told her he was fine, living the good life on the other side, clean and clear headed, watching his siblings and his dog and her and his dad fight the war on drugs. I really hope she had the sensation of a warm hug from her son.  One more time.

dad

Tonight I saw a picture of my dad, probably taken in or around 1995 or 96.  Arm around his sister, cigarette dangling from his fingers, tatoos still clear and proud.  damn I miss him.  That smile, that laugh, those eyes that never, well almost never, lost their sparkle.  He loved life, loved the people around him, loved to be doing something, almost anything.  this man could make sitting at the tides edge, digging for shells and fiddler crabs a whole day’s adventure.

I hope my kids remember their dad and I the way I remember dad.  Always present, always caring, always mine.  B0000062

some days…

On days like today, especially at times like 6:59 this afternoon, I am so full of pride and admiration for my youngest daughter that I don’t know how to tell her without sounding sappy or condescending…. so I write.

This daughter of mine is without a doubt the strongest, most resilient, independent young woman I know.  She has battled many demons in her 30 years — eating disorders, assault, being the “youngest” child, high risk pregnancies….loss and betrayal.  And yet, she rises.  She falls and gets back up.  And shows very little the worse for wear.  Her strength and resolve, her joy and love, are astounding.  And something to be in awe of.

And I am.  continuously.

Love you punk.  to the moon and back.

And then I return to center

ImageAs I stumble through my days, focused on the “issue of the moment” whether it be how to salvage the green beans I bought a week ago, or how to help my son with the custody battle for his daughter, I find myself losing focus on what truly brought me to this particular point in my life.  As impossible as it may seem, I attribute everything, everything that I am and want to be and work for to the moment my child told me she was bulimic.  For the past 7 years a day has not gone by where I did not think, if just for a fleeting moment, about that night.  It has shaped my intention and my drive.  But life moves forward, and the intensity drops.  Other things happen, other issues beckon, and my advocacy for families of those with Eating Disorders takes a back burner.  And I feel guilty that I am not out there fighting, hard, every moment of the day.

,    This morning I read an announcement that Jenni Schaefer, an inspirational voice for those suffering from eating disorders, has decided to “retire” from the field.  She has been a voice in my head since 2007 — her wisdom and insight has helped me help my child.  But, she is well. She is recovered.  She is moving forward with her life and is leaving the field of Eating Disorder Treatment.  Bells and whistles went off in my head.  Alarm?  Concern?  Joy?  All of the above.  You worry that without the support of the network she has woven, she may relapse.  You worry that her voice will be silenced, and she has said so many good things that you know that her message needs to resonate still.  But, I find myself wrapped in joy that this young woman is moving forward.  Her eating disorder does not define who she is and she doesn’t have to think about it every day. 

And I think of my child.  My grown up, married mom and mom -to -be child.  She too is well, recovered, moving forward.  Am I, with my continued focus on ED, holding her back?  Does she still think I’m timing her when she goes to the bathroom after a meal?  Am I timing her?  Does she see “treatment” or love when she looks at me? 

 

This deserves some thought.  My center is shaky.  How do I continue to fight the fight without bringing my daughter into a battle she has already won?