Build your nest near My altar, and I will be your children's source of security, protection, provision and blessing. Psalm 84

Thursday, July 27, 2017

My compass

These past few days, I've been sitting near my father watching him actively die.  The heaviness is indescribable.  All of the months of not being able to get him comfortable for more than 15 minute intervals has somehow eased into a calm, quiet rhythm that keeps me even more alert.  I walk into the room and anticipate his eyes searching for me.  I leave the room knowing I can only be gone a second or two before he is looking for me.  Only now, he isn't.  The strangeness of this new calm is both comforting and terrifying. I am grateful my dad is finally comfortable enough to rest.  And yet, I know that the dad who has stood by me through every major life decision is slowly leaving me.  The other day I was so overwhelmed and stressed, I called my mom and sought out her comfort.  I could hear my dad in the back ground asking who was on the phone.  I asked her to let me speak with my dad.  When I heard his voice I started to cry.  He immediately snapped into dad mode asking what was wrong.  I told him I was sad and worried about him.  And as he always, always does he told me not to worry and went on to comfort me.  And I think, how will I ever go on without him imparting his wisdom? How do we move forward when his physical presence is no longer sitting in the recliner holding court with one of his many stories of his childhood or days that he spent in the service?  When I'm lost and looking, my dad is my moral compass, my safe place, the one who always makes sure the doors are locked at night.  He has been a good provider, but he has been the best dad and grandpa.  He is truly the smartest person I've ever met.  And by far the best story teller and songsmith you would ever come across.  Even in his sleep yesterday I heard him hum a few lines of a song. I couldn't recognize the lyrics, but it made me feel better knowing even in this dream like state, he is still able to remember the tune.  Keep singing, Daddy. Because I'm still listening and learning from you.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

the process of grief

Since my dad's diagnosis and subsequent hospital and rehab stays, on the off chance I have a few moments to step back and actually think straight, I often find my eyes welling up with tears.  Maybe I'm walking down the aisle at the grocery store and I think "All these people around me...they don't know this, but my dad is dying."  My amazing, sweet, funny, loving dad, is slowly dying a horrific death.  I find myself wanting to do absurd things, like lay down on the cool tile in the middle of the produce section and bawl like a baby.  I want to scream out that yes there are so many horrific diseases...but this one is doubly cruel.  Because all the while my father is dying from an incurable disease,  I am experiencing the loss of the most incredible man I know to a death all its own.  I'm plagued by the fact that my mother is single-handedly caring for the man she has loved for more than 50 years.  That she will certainly shorten her own life expectancy by taking on a task too great for any one person.  I try to be there as often as possible.  Because to me, helping my parents is never a question of IF, it's a matter of HOW.  And it has been a gift (a hard and difficult one to accept) to be able to share a small part of this journey.  And it has been an eye opener to see how sickness can literally destroy a family and its ties.  I lived under a very false assumption that when someone got sick, everyone showed up.  That *showing up* was a given.  I have learned the hard way that this is not the case.  That my expectations are only my own.  I've been mad as hell about that part.  Still have sudden waves of anger, but I've learned to bide my time, let it pass, ebb and flow.  I think how things could be (should be) so much easier if we all could give of ourselves a little more.  It would be life changing.  I say that over and over  again in my head.  Life changing..life changing.  And I realize maybe letting go and giving in is the only way to keep moving forward.  That the images of my strong, brilliant dad can still reside in the part of my brain that now also carries the traumatic moments these months have shown me.  I can't forget my dad with tears in his eyes, not understanding what was happening to him.. I can't push away the memories of seeing him on the gurney or unresponsive until 6 bags of fluid were pushed into him.  I can't un-see his face, white as a ghost, his hands freezing and eyes full of fear looking at me with trust in his eyes.  Or the way the paramedics looked at me as if to say I'm sorry because we know how horrible this is.  I can't forget the searching and searching for a vein, until finally the nurse (at my mother's urgent request to stop poking him) moved to a last resort of a rarely used spot near the ankle.  And I will never forget my mother rising to every single occasion when no one should have been given this much to bear.  And she carries it with grace, no complaint, never resting.  She is his constant, his world.  They are my world.  Nothing could be more important.  I carry tremendous guilt for putting my own daughter off.  But this is crisis mode.  She understands.  But it kills me.  How do you balance?  It isn't black and white.  The anxiety eats you up alive.  If I'm not physically there, I'm researching.  I'm googling.  I'm checking out every book on the topic, looking for something we've missed.  I'm praying on my knees, begging (no longer for answers, we are past that) but for solutions and ideas to help us where we are now.  And those moments I'm staring into the great abyss of the fruit and vegetable aisle?  I'm only thinking how my mom is no longer allowed this freedom.  She tells me this is their new normal, that people do what people can do, that I shouldn't worry so much.  And she tells me that she is fine.  Because my mom still protects me at 44.  In the midst of her own suffering and loss, she finds time to mother me.  That's what parents do.  And in spite of my selfish tendencies, I hope I can in some small, tiny way be an anchor for them during this storm. 

Saturday, June 7, 2014

running through my head

Oh the aching feeling I sometimes get when I think back to the past. The ache to change things, spend more time with friends I love, have fewer regrets. And closure. I don't have much of that. I have a very physical sense of heaviness at times. I mean, stop me in my tracks, heavy.  Missed opportunities to say the things I wish I'd said.  And sometimes the memories come so quickly, I lose my footing. I start realizing how quickly time is flying. How the minutes have added up to many years. And I want to revisit the places that became so significant to my present self.  I want to surround myself with the friends that were there and the music that was playing. And when I hear someone is moving or changing or leaving, I can almost not bear it.  I have to propel myself to the here and now and not focus on what lies ahead.  And that's hard. I don't like change and am most comfortable with predictability.  Maybe that is why my relationships sometimes end on a rough note. It's the only way I can part with them.  Sever ties, so heartache won't consume me.  But, it does anyway.  Life is forever moving on and my attempts at stopping it are futile. Worry sets in.  Did I do this all wrong? Does peace exist for even me? Is uneasiness just something that never leaves us? That wakes us from a deep sleep and leaves us piecing back the images? Precious. That is the word that doesn't leave me.  Moments so painful and joyful and lonely and overflowing. They give me that push forward into the unknown. I forgo reliving it all on a daily basis and often can't recall, vividly enough, how I ended up where I am now.  But those unannounced, uninvited moments that come at the most vulnerable times, right when I am waking...those are the hardest and most beautiful of all.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Being by the Sea

I am not brave. Let me start off with that. I wish I were. Brave in the spur of the moment kind of way. It's out of my comfort zone. To dive, head first, into the great unknown. But, sometimes, life presents itself in such a way that even I can throw caution to the wind.

Ruby LOVES the ocean. A lot. She prefers it over most any other destination. Disneyland included. So, when I was doing some research for our upcoming October trip to the Happiest Place on Earth, I decided to type a beach destination into the search engine.  And we ended up with a very spontaneous, last minute trip to San Simeon Lodge by the Sea.

 I grew up taking road trips with my family. The memories are so vivid and the times we shared are something I look back on with such fondness.  I want to let her experience these rites of passage as I once did.  Baby steps, right? 

We ended up staying in the cutest motel along the freeway, overlooking the ocean.  It felt safe, which is huge for this mama.  It was also close (walking distance) to the shore line where we spent a lot of our time searching for sea glass and shells. 




On the second day after we arrived, we took a drive up the coast line and ended up in a tourist-y souvenir shop.  It was full of over priced toys and t-shirts.  In one corner of the store however was a treasure chest holding brown paper sacks.  They were each sealed and labeled for a girl or boy and ranged from $1.50 up $3.00. The catch?  These treasures were grab bags and you had no clue what you were getting.  And the sign clearly stated, NO REFUNDS!

Oh how my girl weighed and measured and finally decided on the best choice of brown paper sack.  (Did you know there is something so very exciting about the unknown treasure?) She busted that bag open as soon as I'd laid down the $1.50 and was so happy to find a little plastic sea turtle she immediately called George. 




For the next few days, George went everywhere we did. He searched for shells, rode inside the sand bucket and had a shot gun view as we drove along our merry way.  He was a good sport really.  I loved that my 10 year old really connected with this little guy.  She is on the brink of  growing past that magical age of pretending. 



I took at least a hundred pictures, and looking at them now, I see this little girl, growing into this amazing young lady. Her sense of humor and timing had me laughing and realizing how much she *gets* this world around her.  She's so brave and smart and I find myself wanting to be like her.  I stood back and watched her interact with people. She did the talking, and I the observing.  She made friends and studied sea life under a microscope with a Marine Biology student. They talked about plankton and crustaceans. She helped rescue a star fish and offered her sand bucket full of water to carry him to safety. 



As we were sitting under the pier looking through the washed up pebbles, I wondered what her memory would be when she is older. Would she remember the sand in her toes, the smell of the ocean or the time we spent painstakingly looking for bits of glass that seemed to just appear out of nowhere. 


For now, I was happy to ride shot gun along with George, into this great adventure:)









Wednesday, January 30, 2013

home school homesteading



So the best part of this week has been the un-schooling we've been doing. This week Ruby's spent a lot of time reconnecting with her dolls.  I think it has a lot to do with our family's recent addition of a baby girl and a recent visit with a baby cousin for her first birthday.  But, I am noticing she isn't really pretending as much as she is practicing how to care for these new little people.  She reminds me of myself at that age.  Always loving on the wee ones:)  She's asked me a few times, " Mom, how can you dress them so carefully and not hurt them?  Do you have to get up really early in the morning?  It takes so long when you're careful!" I tell her with practice she will become a pro.  That it will become second nature.  She looks doubtful and asks if babies really vomit on you. 




This week she has put together a complete game show and hosted me as her contestant.  She wrote out cue cards and dressed in a sequined dress complete with ruffle.  The stage was set using her Hello Kitty microphone and a buzzer to ring in answers.  She was thoughtful and articulate, asking questions and feeding the audience with random facts in between:)  In the end, I won a CD player.  I was tempted to trade it in for option B, but was glad I hadn't when she revealed a small ring box holding only an eraser!  

We are planning a garden and want to grow our own summer veggies and fruits.  Today we took our time looking and choosing a few different seed packets.  Next, we'll figure out a raised garden for planting.  Spring is coming and we can't wait!




Until then, baking cupcakes and adding sprinkles make the short days seem less dreary.  The sun came out for a bit today and renewed our hope that spring is really around the corner.  I tend to wish the days away when it's cold out, but today I decided to embrace them and make them count.  I love incorporating every day living into learning.  I love that hands on baking can be a math lesson.  That game show hosting can be a geography lesson.  ( I learned a plethora of facts about both Ireland and Massachusetts tonight!)








So settling in to the last of the cold front and taking the time to research raised gardens at the library:)  Yep, much better than the alternative.






Wednesday, October 17, 2012

A Decade of Happiness. (a blog in pictures)


From the first moment we met, I loved you.



10 years of  Happiness because of you:)  I love you, Ruby Jane! Happy 10th Birthday!!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Sometimes I'm just incredibly sad

 So right now, this minute in fact, I have been mulling over some stuff that replays itself over and over in my mind.  Maybe it's not healthy. But sometimes you have to just feel it to get past it.  A lot of times lately, I find myself overcome with sadness.  It hits me in the strangest of places.  Yesterday I was grocery shopping.  As I was planning some healthy meals my kid would love, I noticed a butterfly shaped sandwich cutter.  (yes, it actually cuts a sandwich into the shape of a butterfly!) Every day I pack my girl her lunch.  One of her most favorite things are butterflies.  I had to get it.  As I placed it into my basket, out of no where, the tears came.  That homesick, missing someone, achiness over came me.




I've been praying a lot lately. I admit I ebb and flow in my prayer life. I could be better about it.  But, I've been having these down on my knees moments where I pray for specific needs.  Prayer of Jabez-ing if you will.  And at the top of my list is a friend for my girl.  My heart aches for her.  On Tuesday I missed her so much I parked my car near the school where I could see her, but she couldn't see me.  I wanted a glimpse of her jumping rope, running around, giggling.  Instead, I saw my little wallflower propped up against the wall looking longingly out into a sea of kids.  I sat there trying to will her a friend until her bell rang.  I know that people have way sadder stories and mine may seem improportionate to those.  And it may seem co-dependent to a lot of people. But to me, I am just missing this awesome little person who completes my day.  Who adds so much to my life.  And, I hate it. The missing part.




In the meantime, I fill this void with clever sandwich making, washing her favorite outfits and planting lantana to encourage the butterflies into our yard for her.  I find funny stickers and notes and little books to tuck inside her lunch pail to help her pass the long afternoon recess.  I buy her new markers and pick up pennies for her penny jar.  I find books she loves at the thrift store.





This sadness, it isn't all bad I suppose. It stretches me, makes me grow.  Teaches me to rely completely on my maker.  And it humbles me. Eventually, when I go back to work, some of this void will be filled. I will be in much closer proximity, able to see her throughout our days.  I can encourage her at recess with a quick hug.  I can be in her court when she needs me, and in the background when she doesn't.  It will ease my mind.  Erase the sadness.  And with all that new space, there will be plenty of room for the incredible happiness that  always follows.