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


This summer I put up three hummingbird feeders.  There are also several plants and flowers in my yard along with trees and a small raised garden.  My favorite ordinary day pleasure is sitting on the patio enjoying my coffee in the morning or my wine in the afternoon.  Entertainment is provided by the squirrels, birds, rabbits, an occasional raccoon and once even a deer wandering through the neighborhood.  I enjoy the Cardinals and Blue Jays that hang out at the bird feeders and fairly often a squirrel carrying a nut walks within a couple feet of my chair.  Someone in the neighborhood has a big, grey tom cat who usually shows up and glares at me from under the Cedar tree at the side of my patio.  This is my happy place.

Now that we are at the end of summer and approaching autumn the hummingbirds are here.  Lots of them.  This morning there were two flitting from one feeder to another and perching in the Caster Bean plants.  This evening, however, there were at least five zooming from feeder to tree to planter to the garden to the roses to another feeder and past my head as I sat there on their way to do it all over again.  I am always amazed at how fast these tiny creatures are.  When they fly over my head the sound reminds me of a buzz saw.  I love watching them, but they zip from one place to another and back again so quickly that I can’t always ascertain whether the feathered friend on the feeder is the one I saw flying in that direction of the one that came careening in from the opposite direction.  They are inclined to dive bomb each other in mid air and chase one another through the trees.

When I took my wine out to the patio to watch the day fade into night I was wearing my red t-shirt and had on my red rimmed reading glasses for the book I thought I might read a bit of.  You probably know that hummingbirds are attracted to red.  I knew that , but did not actually think about it as I sat in my lawn chair with my feet up to watch the tiny bird circus.  When one of the tiny creatures flew under the gazebo and was hovering only a little more than a foot in front of my face I held perfectly still wanting to see if it would stay a minute.  As I was holding my breath, watching, another miniature bird came zipping past my nose and buzzed the other bird so that they both zoomed into a tree so fast I did not have time to blink before they were gone.

I picked up my book and read only a few lines when I heard that buzz over my head and then there was that bird, hovering in front of my face.  This is beginning to freak me out.  He only stayed a moment and was gone to perch on the feeder for a drink.  When he blasted by my head and hovered to look me in the eye again I finally thought about that red shirt and glasses.  Obviously I am a slow learner.

Have you ever noticed that the beak of a hummingbird closely resembles a needle?  I began to consider what might happen if a needle moving at the speed of a hummingbird met with my face and decided it would be better to move inside to my recliner to finish my reading.  I’m not really a coward, just practical.




An Almost Perfect Day

After weeks of planning the day is here.  Up early I checked off my list.

Eclipse glasses – check

Picnic basket packed – check

Coolers packed with beer, sodas and lots of ice – check

Extra towels, tee shirts, bug spray and sun screen – check

Gas tanks on the boat filled – check.

With all that done my husband and I climb into the mini-van for the drive to the marina, usually about ten minutes away and, wonders never cease, only a ten minute drive today. Arriving at the marina another near miracle, an empty parking place only a few steps from the ramp to our boat.  As we started out of the marina to the main lake the weather was about as good as it gets mid August, a little hot with a little breeze and only the occasional puffy white cloud here and there.  Motoring down the lake toward our destination the water had hardly a ripple and when we got into the bay our favorite spot was vacant!  We had our choice of places to beach the pontoon with only a handful of other pontoons pulled in to the shore and none of those close to our chosen piece of shaded sandy gravel (or maybe better defined as gravely sand).

We unloaded the coolers, picnic basket, chairs, beach blanket, foldup chairs and portable radio onto the shore and the husband took off in the pontoon to pick up the grand kids while I got organized and then sat down to read the newspaper for a few minutes.  When he returns we have the only disappointment of the day; our daughter was not feeling well enough to come out on the lake with us for the day.  COPD chooses the worst damn times to act up.

As soon as we had secured the boat we began passing out the glasses and making sandwiches.  The grandkids and their dates kept us company and we all began watching the sky, waiting for the first little crescent to appear at the west side of the sun.  After a couple of beers (a time measurement used at picnics) there it was.  Just about that same time an unusual thing happened.  All the boats in the bay stopped running back and forth.  No one was zipping along on a sky doo, no one was water skiing and no one was squealing on a towable behind a boat.  Everyone was looking up.

Now an eclipse takes a while and it appears to happen slowly from our earthly vantage point so for the next little while activity increased then decreased as people looked up, then took a break to get a snack or a drink or just rest the neck from all that sky viewing and then looked up again.  And then, brightness became less bright and more like an approaching storm then more like the sky just before the sun breaks the horizon at dawn then, wow!  Twilight in the middle of the day.  A strange not quiet night but for sure not day darkness and the sun through the glasses a black ball with the tiniest thin line of light around the edge.  Taking the glasses off for the oh so short totality the trees seemed charcoal grey instead of green and the shadows deep and dark.  The water took on a sheen like black satin and I could briefly hear crickets in the woods.  All of us were awe struck.

I feel certain that this is a once in a lifetime event for me.  It is not likely that I will be living under the totality of a solar eclipse again before I die and neither is it likely that if I am around to see another that I would share it with my grandson and granddaughter and their significant others under a clear sky floating in refreshing water with a perfectly chilled beer.

It’s all good.


An Almost Perfect Day

What I really want

I would like to go to bed at the end of the day feeling that I accomplished what was needed for the day.  I would like to sleep soundly and wake refreshed.  I want to begin the day with no decision more important than whether to wear a white shirt or black.  It would be so nice to have coffee outside with the hummingbirds and walk in the park to a bench in the shade where I could sit with a book and enjoy a soft breeze.

I want to clean my house and bake fresh bread with no thought of things outside my walls.  I want to meet new people and like them and be liked by them.  To be comfortable in the knowledge that I am loved.  To dance and jump rope and play games and laugh; laugh with abandon.  To have the pleasure of childhood in my adult world.  This business of being grown up is not working out as well as one might hope.

Therein lies the problem.  Adulthood.  The part of life with responsibilities and obligations.  Adults have bills to pay, jobs to do, families to care for, communities to be a part of , standards to uphold.  I seem to have done adulthood fairly well with an occasional slip-up now and then.  Most days I don’t mind it, even enjoy it.  And, really, I would not be a child again even if I could.  Once through each of the stages of this life is enough for me.


What I really want

I think this about that

Trump.  The problem.  For me the biggest problem.  Since last November 9 I have lost a lot of my attention span.  I don’t sleep well.  I drink more.  There are more people that I just don’t want to talk to and sure as hell don’t want to listen to.  I am not alone.  But I feel more lonely in this crazy world since 45 took office.  I don’t interact with new people for fear of learning that they support the policies of the current administration.  I just don’t want to know anymore of those.  Even so they are still around. I overhear them in restaurants loudly proclaiming how 45 is going to show those liberals a thing or two.  Why is it that these guys always make sure the whole room hears what they are talking about?  I learned at an early age to keep the volume down on private conversations in public places by my mother leaning in close to my ear and softly but clearly stating “do not talk loud in public, it is trashy and an ugly way to behave.”  Made a believer out of me.

It seems to me that freedom of speech being the first amendment is significant.  It is first and foremost what a free nation must be about.  Any and all of the citizens of the USA may say whatever they wish as long as there is no threat to others.  Of course, we hope that speaking freely would involve speaking the truth or at least believing to be speaking the truth.  Then there are protests.  A lot of people would rather there be no protests because they interfere with the delusion that there is peace.  There are those who believe when people gather to protest they should be ignored and will therefore go away.  I believe that it is important to stand up and speak out for what we believe to be right and against what we believe to be wrong.

Under the laws of this nation peaceable protests are allowed for every point of view, even the most repugnant.  Peaceable being the most important element.  What we saw this weekend was not and was never intended to be a peaceable protest.  The bigots waving Nazi and confederate flags came looking for trouble and when met with opposition made sure to escalate it to fever pitch.  Driving a car into a crowd of protesters is terrorism.  I feel pride for those who showed up and stood up for what they see as right and just and shame for those who shouted racist slurs and blatant threats to others who had an equal right to be there.  Trying to shout down any opposing speech and threatening fellow citizens makes them cowardly bullies.  In my own opinion it also makes them assholes.

Speaking of assholes, there was a school teacher on public radio a couple of days ago talking about sex education.  I was listening to this in my car and had to pull into a parking lot to keep from losing my temper behind the wheel.  This woman actually said that she teaches the girls in her class that the only way to be safe is not to engage in sexual intercourse, which is offensive enough.  She went on to say that while she is not allowed to mention god or religion she carefully lets them know that sexual intercourse leaves them damaged and that while they may not know it now they will regret the sex for the rest of their lives.   This is a person who is shaping young girls self image.  She will cause some of them to feel shame.  She will cause some of them to doubt their own competence.  Her influence could be the last straw for a child contemplating suicide.  This is disgraceful.  I have let members of the school board (yes this woman is local) know my feelings.  I expect nothing to come of that.

Girls and boys, young men and women, please learn about your own bodies and make decisions about what you do and do not do with them based on fact.  Get your information from your parents, from doctors, from adults who care about you and want what’s best for you not from anyone promoting their own agenda.

I think this about that

That’s life

There was nothing on my calendar for today and I woke up with the idea of lazy coffee out side followed by lots of reading and relaxing with maybe a leisurely walk in the afternoon and soup and sandwiches for supper followed by some television with the husband before an early bedtime.  Heaven for old people.

But, oh no, fate had other ideas. It’s raining and likely to keep raining.  The grandson has a bug problem.  So, no big deal there.  Just take him some bug spray and make a few suggestions based on my own experience with the creepy crawly critters.  It was a good excuse to love on my favorite dog who lives with his master now, as he should. So a short drive to his house, stop by the post office and then I should be free for the remainder of the day.

Oh, no, fate had other ideas.  As I was driving home with visions of red wine and my favorite recliner in my head the cell phone rings.  “Sweety?  Guess what?  The hot water heater is kuput.  We have to have a new one.”  Well damn!  My plan had been to buy myself a kayak so I could paddle my ass around the lake.  That used to be a funny thing to say, but seventy year old women rarely peddle  their ass anywhere.  But I digress.

Okay, shit happens and this is not a tragedy, just an inconvenience. So, adjust; move on; get over it. Go ahead and poor the wine and start a new book.  I love Al Franken and his newest is interesting and funny (not a bad combination). About two paragraphs in a big red truck is slowing driving back and forth in front of the house so I go outside, in the rain, and flag them down to tell them this is the place and to go around the back where it will be easy to load the hot water heater into the basement.  I turn that project over to the husband who has become severely depressed about this latest development.  He will hover over these poor guys while they try to do their job and I am actually glad about that because there is no way they will not get it done to suit him.  Later when it’s all done I will pick up his spirits with dumb jokes and a blizzard from the DQ.  He’s easy like that.

Now I am in the process of transferring my hopes for a simple day from today to tomorrow.  We have an appointment with our financial advisor in the afternoon so the day won’t be totally free, but as far as I know the mother-in-law has nothing for us to do tomorrow and the rest of the family seems to be okay.  Since we will have plenty of hot water a lazy bubble bath might be just the ticket to start the day right and since we have to be out anyway an early dinner out might be just the thing.  We’ll see how that goes.


That’s life

Still thinking

It’s almost eight o’clock on the Fourth of July and I just put down the novel I am reading to go to the kitchen for ice cream.  A Capitol Fourth is on the television and every few minutes the crackle of firecrackers erupts somewhere in the neighborhood.  This is how I celebrate these days.  Just a few blocks away at the park there is free watermelon and a band playing.  Later there will be fireworks and lots of people on blankets and in golf carts, soaked in bug spray, sipping soda or maybe beer, will ooh and ahh at the fireworks behind city hall.  I am glad they are having a good time.  I used to join in, but now I like my air conditioner, my recliner and the far away entertainment on television.

The last few days have had highs and lows, as is often the case.  But sometimes they come too close together to allow me to transition from glad to sad and back again as fast as events warrant.  Friday, after taking the mother-in-law for her cardiac rehab and some quick shopping I met a friend for lunch at my favorite restaurant.  I always enjoy getting together with someone who is not family to catch up on their world instead of keeping up with my own.  There was a gathering at my old high school that night that would have been a lot of fun, but after being out all day I just didn’t have the motivation for the forty minute drive, so I settled in at home and made a simple dinner for the husband instead.

Saturday I was looking forward to the alumni celebration for my high school and spent the day with my hair in curlers working on projects around the house until time to get ready.  That’s when I got the sad news that my brother’s father-in-law passed away after a difficult illness.  My little brother and his wife are very special people to me, so when they hurt I hurt too.  There is really nothing useful to say or do at these times.  Just send condolences and wish for them to find comfort.

Then, as I was filling my flask to put in my purse I got a call from my dearest friend from high school to tell me she would not make the dinner because her husband had fallen and may need to get to the hospital.  One more time, nothing useful to do or say so I express regrets and my hope that things turn out alright.

I checked my make up and decided it would have to do.  I look seventy years old, but then I am seventy years old, so there’s that.  Kiss the husband good bye and into the minivan I go with a golden oldies cd playing for the drive into town.  The alumni meeting was a success.  It was so good to see old friends that I do not keep up with at other times and to learn about their lives since we last met.  I relived some favorite memories with friends from all the way back to childhood, remembered too many school mates no longer with us and caught up on gossip that seemed very much like the same stories from the last time I was there.  The flask came in handy to liven up the tea served with dinner, but only one splash because I had to drive myself home.

Sunday morning I got a text from the granddaughter wanting to get out on the lake with our boat.  The husband was having one of those days when he could not decide what he wanted, so first I said yes to the kids, but then had to tell them there was a change of plans, then change plans again and finally he said he wanted just he and I to take the boat out.  So, pack the cooler and picnic basket, grab a bathing suit and towels and to the marina we go.  As we were idling out of the marina we noticed the southern sky getting an ominous grey and turned around to put the boat back in the slip, just in time for the sky to open up and poor buckets.  It was actually nice to listen to the rain on the roof and enjoy a cold beer.  Much later the sun came out long enough for a short boat ride before heading back home.

Monday the number one grandson had to have dental surgery and part of the evening was spent helping him deal with that.  One more of those situations where when he hurts I hurt.

Now here I am settled down at the end of Independence Day after only minor issues today.  The house has been cleaned, dinner done and yard work caught up.  There is nothing on my list to accomplish tomorrow, but somehow I feel something will come up as it always does.

Still thinking