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Hit a curb, got stuck

I had the wonderful opportunity to be sitting in the church yard, volunteering at the pumpkin patch on a Saturday morning under a large oak tree with the sun just breaking through watching the cars go by. Across the brick avenue I saw a tin can rolling down the street happily along it’s way. I was intrigued with it that as the cars drove by, it knew to stay near the edge so as not to get squashed. Clanking down the brick avenue when all of a sudden it veered and hit the curb to a drive. Bounced off the curb and landed in a pile of brush. Stuck. I continued to watch it struggling to dislodge itself, seizing the momentum of passing cars and the wind, bumping against the curb on one side and the brush around it on the other. I was rooting for this can, trying to think how it could best dislodge itself. As I watched, someone walking down the street saw it and kicked it and walked on. At first when I realized what they were going to do I couldn’t decide if this might be good for it to dislodge it, or just add insult to injury. I felt defensive for this can. As it turns out it bounced up but then settled right back down into it’s stuck position. I just felt this can really wanted to be unstuck and keep rolling down the brick avenue in this beautiful breezy weather. Surely it never intended to be stuck.


But sometimes, isn’t it good just to be stuck for a bit? Maybe that gives us time to reflect on where we’re going from there. Maybe it keeps us from getting squashed. Who am I to say it’s time for the can to roll away?

Then I got busy with a flurry of last minute pumpkin picker outers and forgot about the stuck can. Because focusing on a stuck can’s predicament can be exhausting.  When I sat back down and glanced over, the can was gone! It got unstuck without any input from me. 

I would like to think my moral support gave it the energy it needed to move along, possibly not. But at some point it just became unstuck. After all, life is dynamic and nothing stay stuck forever.   I looked up and down the street trying to spot it. Had it become unstuck only to get squashed later? Was it stuck further down the road? My can was nowhere in sight, it had truly moved along, on it’s merry clankity way! Sometimes, we are all cans in the road. 

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I Hear Wailing

I do not know, nor have I ever met any of the scores of families that have been tragically impacted by this ongoing racial divide in our country. It is too often now that we are dealing with the death of a black person by a white officer. And then last night the horrific assassinations of five police officers in Dallas and numerous others shot and wounded.

So many grieving children and parents across the country for no reason but anger and fear. Violence is not the answer to violence. The gap is growing and we have to fight the divide between us all. We can’t be at war with each other. Please teach your children racial and ethnicity difference and embracing that.  We teach tolerance, but why should we ‘tolerate’ each other? Why instead can we not teach embracing each other’s differences?


I close my eyes and I hear wailing and crying in my head. So many broken hearts each day. Too many parents burying their children. Too many children being told their father or mother will not come home again. Too many grand parents broken in grief. Too many empty arms. Anger will never be the answer. We must work on closing this divide between our differences. Each one of us must get up each morning and walk in this world with the purpose to make it a kinder place, a more accepting place, a safer place, a place our children can thrive. 

The Wills of Peace

The fact The past few years have taken a toll. Life is like that, not ‘funny that way’, just like that. But I feel myself slowly emerging, like when a bullfrog first peers from the waters brim before rising up. Though comparing myself to a bullfrog is not what I was going for here.

The past few years have seen tests to my spirit and identity with the heart wrenching placement of my father into a “memory care center”, because we were not allowed to use the word Alzheimer’s per our mother, though this had been diagnosed years before. His placement was premature, but my mother was “done” and ready to go on with her life. Then suffering through his slow horrible decline and 4 relocations as he fought being confined, and then his death this past year. The previously written about divisive unraveling of my family. The two rounds of treatment my husband endured for Hep C as the first one failed. The change in my relationships with my precious daughters as they grew into the appreciation of the lifestyle their father’s (my first husband) money could bring them and slowly being relegated to a corner spot. The past few years tested me.

But I am not without the resolve of enduring testing. My father instilled that in me, taught us the differences between ‘mountains and molehills’.  Quitting was never an option with my father, it was always “if there’s a will there’s a way”.  The challenge is not to lose the will. And for me, it was redefining the will. 

My will was no longer about being the best mother, holding on to my father, having my husband back to his former self. Even as I write this I realize anew the common thread of accepting a new me in the midst of new relations with old relationships. No, my will fluctuated, redefined, focused in and out like those automatic occular testing devices.  First I focused on getting through each day. I focused on not snapping at people, on my moods, on not crying, on not thinking, on  not over engaging in difficult conversations.  It was The Will of Not! The Will of Not is the story of defense.

This shifted into  a will to understand why my mother would/could seem to so easily dismiss my father, two of her four daughters, grandchildren, great grandchildren, the community my parents had lived in for 30+ years and close friends…to just walk away and start over.  To understand how my husband’s treatment changed who he was and live with this at times cold man it created which is a stated side effect and how long it would last. To try and wrap my head around how my daughters were so pulled into a lifestyle I could not begin to appreciate, relate to or respect with the private jets, fancy vacations and materialism that came with their fathers wealth. And how this pushed all of the other grandparents to a corner in the square and out of the inner circle.  This is not to say they are not loving. If something was wrong and I called they would certainly be available to lend an ear. But their lives are busy and I do not have much to offer but babysitting services, which is my greatest joy.  This is the part you think will never happen to you when your children are growing up and depend so much on your love and guidance. Then have their own busy families and you realize you are now a spare part. I can not fault them for the power I gave them. But it is a power they are probably bewildered by me taking back. Yes, this was the period of The Will to Understand, because understanding is knowledge and knowledge is power and I was desperately seeking power in my life. Understanding allows acceptance.

I have forgotten to skip.  Who did not learn the joyous movement of skipping as a child!? Just thinking about it creates a sense of freedom and abandonment. Why do we teach these things to children when we don’t practice them as adults?  To move our bodies, which moves our minds, in abandoned freedom.  To focus so purely on the here and now and allow the worry of tomorrow to slip away, to relearn how to skip. This emerging process is a cherishingly slow process. I am stunned when I reflect back on how hard I worked for my daughters approval and acceptance, in a constant state of anxiety if I had irritated them. I’m afraid that pendulum has swung, without my even realizing it except in reflective comparison.  Only today did I realize I have this past month forgotten both of my son-in-laws birthdays! Not where I want to be! And yet after 10 solid seconds of panic I moved quickly to ‘oh well’, done now. And added the dates back to my calendar as they evidently dropped off with the last update. Another sip of coffee.  I am learning. Learning finally to shrug, skip, forgive ME, hold onto what my father taught me above all ‘live fearless, live honest’, to keep my eyes open. “Was blind but now I see”.  I am willing to learn! Yes, this is the period of The Will to Learn!

Learning my limitations, embracing my limitations! Both limitations that are natural to my humanity and limitations I choose, and understanding the difference. Not allowing one to be an excuse for the other. Staying the path of being open to fearlessly looking forward, there lies the peace. Knowing I’m allowed to take care of me and not apologize for it. 

~peace~

I Have Two Dogs

I am working hard these days to appreciate all the blessings I am surrounded with in my life. I have fallen into a deep well of regret, what if and poor me. I have grown daughters, two son-in-laws and five grandchildren…five vibrant adorable grandchildren. I struggle with being a ‘secondary’ grandmother and an obligation mother.  I’m really not sure what I want anymore…my mind just rambles on. I need to go to the grocery store, I don’t want to dry my hair, I threw on some make up, that should suffice. I haven’t washed my jeans in at least two weeks, and that’s just how I like it. I need a drink. I don’t drink much, but when I do I so enjoy it. It is the day after Christmas. My first Christmas since my father died. My first Christmas that both of my girls (and their families) chose to be with their father and his wife in Aspen. I have tried the mature tact with this, being set aside, and only halfway succeeded. Sometimes it just feels better to be pissy, but only for a very short time. My seven-year-old granddaughter recently told me that my first husband and his wife were her mother’s parents, and asked why I didn’t have children. Sometimes I wonder the same. 

I have two dogs. Two sweet cuddly dogs. I suspect I will lose one of them in the next year as she is almost 14. It should storm tonight, I love storms. They rage with all the emotion that we struggle to feel, they will not be denied.  They do not think about ‘is this lightening appropriate, was my thunder too loud, am I being offensive, will I lose relationships over this much rain’?  Nope, they just blow in and say ‘deal with it’.  Sometimes they are renewing, sometimes they’re destructive,  they are what they are charged to be.  My younger dog hates them and stays on top of me, my older one has lost her hearing and couldn’t  care.

   

When my daughters were young children we would sit by the window on the floor and watch the storms so they could learn to love, appreciate and respect their power and not fear it.  They both love storms too.  It’s hard to let your children walk away as adults, so damn frickin hard! But it is right. 

That is why I have two dogs.

Why Do We Do It???

I found out this week that a woman I know who is 56 is getting a facelift. I know this is nothing new, happens all the time, it’s not like it’s the 1960s when it would have been shocking. But it shocked me. I didn’t see it coming in this person for one. This isn’t a woman I’m close to, but I do know her well, she is my first husband’s wife and therefore one of the grandmothers to our grandchildren, three of which are young girls. So, I am bothered on several fronts and had a multitude of emotional reactions. I have to confess that at first I was just shocked, then had a few jokes, but quickly settled into a sadness for her, disappointment and even being mad about it. I will soon be 60, so I get the whole aging thing. My sadness is from a belief that when we feel a strong enough need to alter our looks because we look in the mirror and no longer like what we see we have much larger issues (short of a traumatic event that altered our looks).
When our self worth is based on our looks, then inevitably our worth will fade with age. We are given many, many years to learn and embrace that our worth is based on our values, principles and passions. And because those are enhanced with age as we come to a deeper understanding of them, our self worth increases with age. So, I am sad that at this point in her life she has not gotten there and it makes me sad that as she starts down this path of seeking to surgically increase her self worth that she will make that arrival all the more difficult.
I am disappointed tinged with mad, that as a significant female in the lives of our three young grand-daughters she is not taking into account what this says to them, or if she is, she is able to justify and dismiss it. In a society and age where our young girls are inundated with the message that the most important thing they have to offer is their looks, the responsibility of strong and positive female role models is all the more crucial. Because these are my grand-daughters, I resent that she is failing them on this and sending the message that if you don’t like how you look, that you aren’t comfortable with aging, then just alter it.
I know we all alter our looks to some extent, as females we put on makeup, we color our hair, we pierce our ears (or God knows what else), but I believe it is fundamentally different when we choose to permanently alter the structure of who we are. How do you feel when you look in the mirror then and no longer see the ‘you’ that you’ve always seen? What is next? How or when do you draw the line? When is it enough to make you ‘happy’? I think the greater peace would have come from getting out of yourself and more focused on others in the world around you whose lives need to be reconstructed. Just another example of too much money, too much time, too much self-focus. I am ever more thankful for the peace I have found in my life and I truly pray that she will continue to seek true peace in her own, and find it, because it won’t happen under anesthetic, waking up with bandages covering you face in a sterile environment with people who don’t know you, other than that you are good for the bill.

I miss the recognition in your eyes. It’s been over 20 years, and I’ve come to understand over the years why I miss you still. You are the one person who really knew all the parts of me.
On the rare occasions that reunites us, I recognize that momentarily when I look in your eyes before you mask it. We all want to know that someone really knows us, that place where secrets live and are safe outside of us, the history of us, the totality of us. It’s not fair that someone can steal that from you and you can never get it back. You carry each other’s unspoken secrets with you and it’s a burden and a blessing. The agony is knowing someone walked off into another life with that piece of you, and left that piece of them in you, and you can’t give it back any more than you can get it back.
Building a new life isn’t really so difficult when you do it moment by moment, year-by-year, experience by experience. You add in many pieces, so many pieces, to make up for that one large piece you lost. But you realize that no matter how many pieces you add in that piece lost can’t be replaced and that the scene is forever changed and the picture can’t really be complete because you are always trying to find another piece to fit in that hole.
It’s not wrong that I miss you, I’ve learned that over the years. I have a full life, I live a full life, I’ve chosen a full life. But when I’m sitting by the window, and it’s raining outside, and a song comes on that pulls at me, I go back to that missing piece….and it’s raindrops falling like memories, cascading down, drenching my view.

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This is the thing when you are a mom with grown daughters who have a stepmother, though not one that was a part of their growing up. As your children grow up and become themselves and their own adults they start reflecting back on you as a parent and become more and more aware of your faults and get more tired and inpatient with you for not fixing them. Because after all, now that they are grown women you should’ve figured everything out with yourself by now and be past any issues they figure. But stepmom, she has not been there for the history, and the long haul so her faults become irrelevant because they do not tie in to who your daughters have become. So she is not to blame. So as you grow older your daughters become more exasperated with you and more involved and closer to her. Which intern hurts you, and you overreact, which just confirms their views of all your faults. Such an exasperating cycle.

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