Rare Day

The day before yesterday was a pleasant February surprise.  The temperature was an all time high and he wind was whistling.  Wanting to enjoy as much of this as possible I opened all the windows and shades to let in the sun and fresh air.  It felt great!

Then, I sat down to browse lazily through a magazine and noticed that the wind had blown the dust bunnies out from under the furniture and they were scampering across the floor.  Looking a little closer around the room it was not possible to ignore the sun highlighting the dust on the coffee table and the windows themselves had little luster. As long as I remained closed in behind drawn curtains and closed windows and doors the light from a few lamps revealed little that needed the attention of a dust cloth or vacuum cleaner, but with the sun lighting up every corner the mess accumulated there can’t be ignored.

So, it seems a little housekeeping just had to be done.  I am not, however, a really big dummy so I first closed the windows and drew the curtains.  The place was looking better already.  A quick flick over all furniture tops with a Swiffer and a session with the vacuum cleaner made a big difference.  Just for good measure I damp moped the floors and scrubbed the bathrooms.  I think this will last until spring really gets here when those damn windows will have to be dealt with.

This is not how I was raised to clean house.  Both my mom and mother-in-law would not have approved at what they would call half measures.  Dusting for instance involved removing every item on each piece of furniture followed by liberal amounts of lemon oil on a cloth rubbed over the entire surface, legs and sides included, then each item carefully wiped with a clean cloth and replaced EXACTLY where they were to begin with. The floors would be vacuumed, then mopped and finally wiped dry.  Windows would never get really dirty since they would be cleaned early in the spring, several times through out the summer and again late in the autumn.  I recall being told that only common trash pulled the curtains over a dirty window.  Personally, I am happy to sit my butt down among a little dust to play with the dog or just relax.



Rare Day

Baby Steps

Today I got my camera out of the closet and charged up the battery.  Then I installed the accompanying software onto the computer and spent time studying the manual for the camera and online instructions for uploading pictures and printing them.  So what?  Well this camera was a gift from my family that Teri choose.  She and I intended for me to learn about photography with her.  Her death last November canceled those plans.  I tried to take a few pictures during the holidays but I couldn’t.  I couldn’t focus through tears. So I put the camera away for a while.

There have been only small changes in the grief her father and I are living through.  The wound is still raw, but bleeding less.  We are very gradually able to be in the company of friends and enjoy that.  We are taking care of legal matters that we were unable to even think about at first.  Just last week we traveled south for a visit with my brother and his family that gave us both a few much needed relaxed days.  For the most part we deal with one day at a time now.  At first five minutes without breaking apart was a challenge.

Personally I have found setting short term goals one at a time and only moving on to the next when each is met.  One of the first Thanksgiving dinner.  Check.  Next was to host a reveal party for my pregnant granddaughter.  Check.  Then Christmas. Check.

When we left the hospital after Teri’s death I brought with me among her things a tote bag of knitting projects she always had with her.  It sat in the corner of the spare bedroom until the end of January because I could not even look at it any sooner.  The last day of January I dumped it all out, rolled up the balls of yarn and took the unfinished items to a knitting shop to get someone to complete them.  Those are ready to be picked up and I will give them to the grandkids.  Check.

Today it was start taking pictures.  Check.  Next I want to get back to going to meetings of the Paducah Free Thinkers.  I miss those guys.

On Tuesday I get to go to Brittany’s doctor appointment with her and on Sunday I will provide refreshments for her baby shower.

In this journey I feel like a baby crawling along and just beginning to pull up with something to hold on to, but not really ready to take that first step and then walk.  But I am crawling faster and standing longer so walking can’t be that far away.  Baby steps advance down the road slowly at best, but they will get me there — eventually.

Baby Steps

Tough Old Broads

Here’s the thing about tough old broads.  They are down right mushy on the inside.  These hard shelled old gals are as soft and sweet as a marsh mellow under that crusty exterior.  Tough old broads didn’t get tough or old by taking crap.  Lots of people tried giving them crap and for a while when they were very young they put up with some, but not much.  And the longer they live and the more they learn the less they tolerate crap.  They stand up for themselves, and they stand up for those they care for.

A tough old broad may not be able to kick your ass, but if you mistreat someone they care for they can make you wish they would just go ahead and punch you out.  And there is always the possibility you’ll have to prove that you can take that old gal, and how big and bad are you really going to feel if you beat up an old lady?  Better to just shut up and go away.  Trust me, much better.

Once upon a time a tough old broad I know was waiting in a check out line behind a younger woman with a small child in tow.  The child was unhappy and crying and the woman jerked the baby around and growled at her to “shut the fuck up”.  The old broad began tapping her fingers on the shopping cart and took a deep breath.  The child was crying and sat down on the floor.  The woman jerked the baby by the arm and smacked her butt, telling her again to “shut the fuck up”.  The old broad stepped up close to the woman and in a soft voice told her not to jerk the child around again.  Yep, you guessed it.  The woman told the old broad to mind her own damn business and jerked the baby up by the arm.  So, the old broad asked the cashier to please call security and moved between the woman and the child and told her that she was not going to let her mistreat the child anymore.  As the old broad was dialing 911 on her cell phone and reporting child abuse and requesting an officer the woman was yelling about you old bitch needs to shut up and going to be an ass kicking and how dare you, blah, blah, blah. The old broad stood calmly looking the woman in the eye for the few minutes it took security to arrive and try to calm the woman down.  Soon the police came and guess what?  The woman became more humble and apologetic and didn’t want any trouble and she would never hurt her baby, she just was trying to teach her how to act, blah, blah, blah. The police assured the old broad that they were contacting social services.  The old broad stayed around long enough to be sure they got the name and address of the woman, then paid for her purchases.  This, youngsters, is how it’s done.  This is how tough old broads managed to get old and tough.

Tough old broads understand bullies.  They have been bullied and figured out that bullies are generally cowards.  If you pay attention you will notice that bullies prefer to pick on someone who won’t or can’t fight back.  A bully might still kick your butt if you stand up to them but they will most certainly kick your butt if you don’t.  So, tough old broads make a point of not taking crap and when folks figure out that they don’t take any crap, well they don’t get any.

Doesn’t sound all that soft does it?  The soft part comes when a tough old broad sees someone else getting crap that they don’t deserve.  Their big hearts break at abuse and injustice.  These old gals love with their whole souls and defend loved ones with the courage won from a lifetime.  Tough old broads are who you want watching your back.

Tough Old Broads

Attitude Adjustment

It seems to me that we have little if any control over what happens.  Accepting that can make all the difference in how life is perceived.  The sun rises, it rains or it doesn’t, people go about their business and the sun sets and what I wanted or what I did or did not do changed absolutely nothing.  Now, that makes perfect sense.  But you see, I hate that.  I want control.  I lust for control.  Being out of control freaks me out.  I see those I care for about to make a really bad choice and I expect them to do something else when I tell them to.  They don’t.  World leaders are dong stupid shit on a regular basis and no matter how many letters I write or surveys I fill out they keep doing stupid shit.  I can’t do anything about anything except my own choices.  So, what now?  Let go, that’s what. I find myself repeating “not my circus not my monkeys”.  Ahh, relief.  The world is on its own.

Today has been easier for me than some I have  had lately.  Why?  I took charge of what I can do and turned my back on everything else.  I went with the husband to finish settling his mom into her apartment at assisted living.  She is not good at decisions these days so I hung her many pictures where I thought they looked best and she seemed to be okay with that.  She didn’t want to “mess with” wearing hearing aids but she can’t hear anything without them so I changed the batteries and put them into her ears anyway. In short, I controlled what I could and let go of what I could not.

Back home I caught up on coffee drinking and novel reading and decided not to fix dinner because after two beers and some really good cheese I am not hungry. IF all goes well I have plans to make a short trip south in the next couple of weeks and a longer trip to the north east come summer.  If all doesn’t go well, well that will be handled as it comes along. Not my circus not my monkeys.

Attitude Adjustment

Long Day Sunday

Most of the time I live on the positive side.  There is always something to be grateful for, always.  The usual items on my daily gratitude list are still here, but there seems to be a black fog between me and whatever is good today.  I woke up pissed that I woke up before the sun so I flopped around trying to go back to sleep, even knowing that would not happen because I had to pee and once I make that trip to the toilet going back to dreamland is out of the question.  Coffee and the newspaper did not improve my disposition.  Even the husband’s hugs and his having enough sense to let me be did not give me the usual lift.

My go to for these occasional bouts of the blahs is usually getting together with family and I thought about calling everybody and making supper, but today I just don’t have a decent dinner in me.  What I have in me is grief.  I understand this intellectually and generally have tools to manage it.  I understand that I need to reach out for comfort.  I got in touch with a good listener who listened.  Still feeling down.  I understand that I need to be kind to myself.  I took a bubble bath and sat down with wine and a good book.  Read the same damn paragraph over and over until I realized my brain could not hold onto the words.

The usual fixes aren’t working.  The only place left for me to go is just accept that this day sucks.  It sucks, it hurts and it is lasting too long.  I miss my daughter.  Always will.  I will handle that better on other days.  This day I just give up.

Long Day Sunday

Daily Prompt: Forlorn

via Daily Prompt: Forlorn Today’s daily prompt fits my current emotional state perfectly.  Certainly feeling forlorn today.  Kind of at loose ends and trying to find something to hold on too so that I don’t get blown away by the next wind.  It’s just too much effort to really care about anything and all I really want to do is sleep or just hide in a corner away from everybody.  I can’t completely claim forlorn though because the very definition of forlorn is hopeless and I am never totally hopeless.  What I am is sad and I miss my daughter, my buddy who would have said do what you need to do mom.  You deserve a day off.

There are people I could call, shoulders I could cry on.  But what kind of selfish asshole does that?  So, say I call up a friend and cry like a baby and rant and rave about how unfair life is and on and on and on so that I bring them down from the happy place they may be in.  Would I feel better? Maybe briefly.  But not for long and my friend would be sharing the sadness.  Right now I am not doing that.  Maybe tomorrow if I need to I will call but right now I can just carry this load myself.


Daily Prompt: Forlorn

Crazy and Confused

Each day when I first wake I have a headache.  For just a moment I wonder why, then I become aware that my daughter is still dead and I am still in a permanent state of grief.  It’s a strange thing, grief.  I thought I understood it before, having lost others I loved dearly and having comforted friends and family through their times of loss, but this is different in so many ways.  Grief for the loss of my child is so much more, so much more everything.  The sadness is deeper and wider.  The pain is more painful and intense and sneaks up to smack you without warning.

I find myself most distressed by my inability to concentrate.  I actually had to get out my recipe book to make biscuits the other day.  This is ridiculous.  I have been making biscuits from memory for years and now I have to measure out everything in separate bowls and cups before I start or I forget whether I already put stuff in.  Probably this will get better with time as I move through the stages.  The problem with there being stages of grief is that they do not line up single file where one can move from one to another, rather one stage seems to have passed and another to begin when all of a sudden your heart goes right back to the beginning and total devastation slams you to the ground.

Then just when I feel strong enough to go ahead and meet friends for a drink a song comes on the radio in the car that reminds me of a happy time and I break down and cry because that time is gone with her and will never come again.   Damn.  Now I have to blow my nose, repair my makeup, breathe deeply and go into the bar to order a drink.  I hug my friends, say I’m doing okay and find a way to make conversation.  It actually helps and I resolve to accept more social invitations.

Most of my life I have written to entertain myself, to record memories, to share ideas.  Now I find that holding a thought long enough to put it on paper is a challenge.  If someone asks me how I feel before I can put words to my current state it changes and I go from at peace to distraught to anxiety ridden to okay I guess and settle on saying I’m okay I guess.  Much of the time staying busy is the only way to get through the day.  So I clean, cook, shop, rearrange the house, take a walk, do pretty much anything that keeps me moving and requires the use of my mind so that there is no room in my head for anything else.

Today has been typical of my days since Teri died.  I have felt up, down, frustrated, grateful, lost, agitated, and even briefly calm.  It seems likely to me that there will be many more days like this one before there is a day of serenity.  Oh how I long for a day of serenity.

What I know is that I need to write down how each day changes, or not, so that when progress is made I can recognize it.

Crazy and Confused

The End is Only the Beginning

My daughter died.  That’s the end of her story.  It’s a beautiful, tragic story, but it has ended and everything else continues to be and that seems so wrong.  Practically I get it.  One life ends and all others continue as they always have.  My life continues, but I don’t know what to do with it so I go through the motions and wait to understand, to adjust, to accept.  Some have said the past is the best indicator of the future.  Okay, people I loved have died before and it was hard, painful even.  Time helped.  Staying busy helped.  Letting people help gave some relief. Helping others helped too.  All that will get me through this time too, but not soon, maybe not for a very long time.

Remembering is the worst and the best part of my days now.  Every happy time I recall makes me cry and makes me smile at the same time.  Every new card that comes in the mail sharing others’ memories of my girl makes me cry and makes me smile at the same time.  I think to myself that no one can imagine or understand this pain and confusion and anger and despair, but I am wrong about that.  Others have lost their children and know too well the world I live in now.  They have reached out to lift me up, or at least try to keep me from sinking any further. I am so grateful to them.

Gratitude is coming easier to me that I had hoped.  The kindness and compassion of friends, neighbors, acquaintances and even strangers are so appreciated.  Being cared for and  thought of keeps the loneliness at bay.  It has always been my practice to make a gratitude list most days, if not actually written down at least noted in my mind early in the day.  Right this minute if I try to list all that I am grateful for it includes:  My grandchildren.  Being here and being strong for them gives me purpose that I so need. My husband who reminds me constantly that we honor Teri’s memory by living a good life; that she would not approve of any wallowing but always wanted all good things for her family.  My son who makes me laugh just because he knows I need to do that. The usual other stuff; a home, health, neighbors, living above the poverty line.  Mostly I deeply appreciate that Teri was in my life and brought so much joy to so many.  Not that she was perfect, but she was close enough for me.  She gave more that she got from this world, cared too much too often and always kept trying against all odds.  She was my hero.

Now I have to find a way to carry on with all of us still here.  My granddaughter is expecting a baby in May.  She and her mother were planning a reveal party before, so we got busy and put together that party to announce that a new baby girl is on her way.  We decorated the house and put out punch and cookies, snacks and sodas, and enjoyed the company of friends and soccer moms and even one adorable baby boy for a couple of hours.  It’s a start.

Christmas is next.  All the trees (I put up only five this year) are trimmed and there are candles and trinkets from Christmases past all over the house.  Gifts have been ordered online and the baking has begun.  Finding some happiness in the holiday is my next goal.  Once that is done we will find something else to look forward too.  That is the only way I know to live this life.


The End is Only the Beginning

Feeling crowded

Here’s the problem.  The real problem with the world.  There are too many people.  There are more people on the earth than the earth can sustain.  Far too many of these people are starving and far too many do not have clean water.  When there is not enough to go around, well then those who have none take what they need from those who have some.  Therefore, since it is not possible to increase the finite resources of earth then the need must be reduced.  People have to stop making so many more people.

Mother nature is doing her part.  We have storms, floods, wild fires and drought eliminating many humans on a regular basis.  Humans themselves contribute to the elimination of large numbers of existing humans with wars and more wars.  Then of course there is disease taking out that many more and just plain old age finally freeing up some space.  But still, we have more  and more people.

What the hell is wrong with us?  It’s not like we lack effective birth control.  Unless you live in a cave alone it is not possible to see the refugee camps and poverty stricken cities all over the world and conclude that the world needs more people.  So why don’t we do something, or even acknowledge that something needs to be done?

Why indeed.  It’s partly because we are biologically designed to procreate.  We like making babies.  Well, really mostly we like having sex — not usually with the full intent to make a baby, just to feel good.  That’s where the birth control would be helpful.  Of course mostly we like babies.  They are cute.  We are taught, mostly by religious teachings, that every baby is a blessing.  I actually never met one I didn’t like.  Making babies makes a man feel, well manly.  Makes a woman feel motherly and fulfilled. Even siblings like each other.

How can we be convinced not to give ourselves this blessing?  China tried restricting the number of children legally allowed.  That doesn’t seem to have gone very well.  So far educating people about family planning has not been successful to any meaningful degree, partly because most religious teaching glorifies large families.

It seems I have identified, at least in my own mind, another unsolvable problem.  I don’t know what the hell to do about it.

Feeling crowded

They call me Granny

Here we go again with another Hallmark holiday, grandparents day.  I guess that’s okay for people who otherwise would not think of their grandparents and it sells a few greeting cards.  I am Granny every day. It’s my favorite nick name, and I’ve had a few of those.  Punkin and Sis when I was a kid, Mac (for my maiden name, McCandless) as a teen, from my husband Sweetie when he is happy with me and Darling with a sarcastic twist when he isn’t.  Then I got to be Mama, Mom and Mother (mother with that same sarcastic twist) and finally Granny.

I got to be Granny first when Curtis was born and then a few months later when his cousin, Tara, came along.  Then there was Brittany and when my son married again we gained Camille followed by her brothers Ethan and finally James.  Six of them!  I have a lot of grannying to do, my favorite pass time.

Most of these babies got their first bath at home in my kitchen sink.  Soapy, slippery babies can be a challenge but I was always up for it.  They are so sweet smelling all fresh and clean and a nice warm bath can be so soothing for a baby.  And, what could be better than that toothless smile when they are wrapped up in a fluffy towel?  My theory with grandchildren is if they are grumpy put them in water or feed them something sweet.  So, when they got past the kitchen sink bath age we graduated to bubble baths, then a wading pool, then a swimming pool or a dip in the lake in summer.  On vacations when a hot tub was available a little time in there followed by a banana malt made for sleepy boys at bed time.

When water didn’t work to settle down the toddlers a ride around the block in the stroller would do the trick, or maybe a ride in the car in cooler weather.  Of course there’s always books read while snuggling in the rocking chair or just snuggling and rocking while softly singing.  The singing always had to be softly for me because I am tone deaf and can’t really sing, but I can fake it close enough for little kids who don’t know any better yet.

As the grandchildren got school age they developed an interest in various sports and I had new entertainment opportunities.  There are hundreds of soccer games in my past and more than a few little league games, an occasional basketball game or track event and some swim lessons.  All of them a treat.  Turns out the cheerleading experience from high school served me well.

The four eldest are adults now and finding their way in the world.  I think they are going to be okay.  Each of them are intelligent, caring people.  Each of them have their own dreams to pursue and their own unique qualities to contribute.

The two youngest, my wonder boys, still have adolescence in front of them.  They show signs of growing into good men.  It’s a joy for me to watch as they leave the funny little boys they were behind and make the journey toward responsible citizens.

Happy Grandparents Day to me.  Granny is my absolute favorite thing to be everyday.  I am spending this particular day dog sitting the grand dog, Tyson.  He gets extra treats at my house, just like the other grand kids but ninety pounds of black dog is too much for me to handle in a bubble bath.  Tyson doesn’t care and he doesn’t need soothing.  He is perfectly content laying on my feet as I sit in my recliner.  I can’t say he is my favorite but he is the easiest to take care of.



They call me Granny