Sunday, January 23, 2011

Boundaries

I spent much of my life without having a center.  Although I was raised Catholic, as soon as I was out of the house I was out of the church.  Now, there is a lot of freedom in being released to do whatever you want, but there is also a lot of bondage.  If there is no reason to live a good life, why are we here?  If we aren't here to help one another, instead of hoarding what we have, what's the point?  I mean really - - the richest guy wins?  Or the man with the most toys wins? 

Somehow, in His goodness and mercy, God pulled me out of what I thought was an okay life.  Not great - single parenting, special child, not lots of money (not really any).  I seemed determined to live out my days in an apartment until I ended up in an assisted living facility. Lot to look forward to, isn't it? Then I happened across this line of Scripture:

 5 LORD, you have assigned me my portion and my cup;
   you have made my lot secure.
6 The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
   surely I have a delightful inheritance.

It is out of Psalm 16.  I can't tell you why it lifted my spirit, but it did.  There were boundary lines out there!  I didn't have to feel alone, or dejected, or worry about crossing the line.  The Bible had everything I needed to know to live a rich, fulfilling life. 

Thanks be to God, for saving me.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Mississippi River

If you have never gone and sat on the banks of the Mississippi River, your citizenship should be revoked.  There is never a time that I don't miss the river.  I can remember crossing it as a young child to visit my grandmother, on a bridge so rickety I STILL can't believe it's there.  And, there was a train on the bridge at the same time.

I can remember crossing it on ferry boats to get to Algiers, Plaquemine, and St. Francisville.  I need the water.  I need the lazy move of her swaying ships, like a woman singing a siren song.  The blues were born on the Mississippi.  The kind of blues you can't get out of your mind.  Not "Old Man River".  That doesn't even begin to do it justice.

I have gone to sit on the levee so many times when I'm faced with a decision, or a hard time, or a good time in my life.  Lying on the riverbank gives you the feeling no one else is there, until one of the barges or riverboats toots its horn.  I can remember taking a blanket and a bottle of wine to the levee, alone, when I felt alone.  I have gone there with friends to be festive, or to grieve.

There's just no getting around the river.  When we go to Baton Rouge, the first thing I want to do is go to the river.  And then go to New Orleans, so I can sit on a bench and just watch that lazy old river run down the bend and on to farther destinations, or maybe just the Port of New Orleans. It doesn't matter.  It touches me.
It makes me feel part of a greater plan, a bigger picture, something much larger than me.

So, if you have never been to the river - - go there.  Alone, or with friends (depending on the neighborhood) but you will never be the same.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Snow

We are expected to get one inch of snow, but it is really really cold outside and the snow is blowing like crazy.  I am happy to be sitting in my chair, writing this.

There was a shooting today near my nieces' school.  They locked it down, and everyone's okay, but nothing like a little action to keep everyone on their toes.  This was a Dad moment.  Lynn would have called Daddy and he would have talked her through it.  All she had was me - I hope I measured up.

The snow makes everything bright and beautiful and peaceful.  Just the right tonic for this evening.  I am blessed to have my husband here and my family within a phone call or text away.  Today was better.  I got up and got lots of housework done, which makes me infinitely happy. 

I unpacked some pictures of Daddy and put them around the house.  He looks so good.  Just because he isn't here doesn't mean I don't love him. I do. I love you, Daddy.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

In Between

Today, I thought I was doing really well.  I laid out all the cards and donations that people have made to Cancer Services and my daughter Madison's school.  I thoughtfully began to write thank-yous.  Then, I realized there were two types of thank you notes and I was writing on the ones to the pallbearers.  Hours of work down the drain, and I just had to put it aside and stop.


Sometimes, I feel like I am ready to go back to work, to see people, to become part of a community again.  Then, I realize that even the smallest thing such as grocery shopping takes everything out of me.  My dear husband watches me carefully, makes sure I go to bed when he sees me crashing, leaves me love notes when he goes to work in the morning.  He is a true blessing to me.

I call my sisters daily, and it's the same thing....sometimes we can talk and sometimes we can't.  The silence in the house is at once deafening and comforting at the same time.  I need time to heal, and I can't rush that.  I feel like God gave me the most amazing gift to be able to walk through the last 9 months of my Dad's life with him.  I was drawn into his world, met his friends, learned his routine.

I find myself calling David Daddy sometimes, just because it was the two of us a lot.  My sisters came, but their visits had to be limited.  Lori is taking care of our mother who has Alzheimer's, and Lynn has two young daughters. 

I dream about Dad every night.  I'm sure that will begin to happen less and less.  And, sooner or later, the pain will lessen.  But right now, I feel like I have a boulder on my chest and I can't breathe.  He was our anchor, our rock, our glue that held the family together.  I'm not sure we know yet how to go on without him.  We will figure it out, but right now, it's too raw....too fresh.  Too lonely.

Monday, January 17, 2011

The Fog

The fog in my brain is overwhelming.  I begin a task, forget what I'm doing, and never get back to it.  I tell myself every day - - today I'll tackle the office, or the basement, or even the garage.  Nope.  Not yet.  But I am continuing to read through the Bible daily, and I feel like I continue to get encouragement from Jesus and from Daddy.  He's not gone.  I just can't see him.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Today is Better

So,last night I posted a Davey Jones video (before he was with the Monkees).  The song was called "My Dad".  The girls and I knew all the words, and Lynnie said she played it for him all the time.  To me, it really lightened the mood, and allowed us all a laugh at something in our past having to do with Daddy.  Good times.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Four Weeks

How can it be four weeks already?  No matter how hard I try, I can't get Daddy's face and voice out of my head.  Rest well, Dad.  We all loved you!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Sigh!

I am certain that I have many more things going on in my life than discussing the death of my Daddy.  I just haven't found them yet.  I'm still not comfortable around crowds.  In fact, I'd rather just sit home.  I am doing things one at a time. 

Today I hooked up our new printer/copier (it's wireless) and I was glad to get that done.  And then, well, I read and played scrabble.  I just don't seem to have my groove back.  I really do want to get back to what I once thought was normal, but I'm not even sure what normal is any more.

I don't feel like eating much - in fact at all.  I have lost 25 pounds, and that's a good bit.  But, I was overweight anyway.  Right?

I think about things I want to call Daddy and tell him every day, several times a day.  I talk to him, but it's a one-way conversation.  I know that he's up there, watching, rooting for me, and I'll get there.  It just takes time.  Sigh!

Love Can be a Four Letter Word

How easily this word rolls off our tongues, expecting it to repair a universe full of hurt, an army of trampling on someone's heart, fixing even the smallest problem.  It seems to me that if I knew how to mind my own business, it would help.  Maybe.  Maybe not.  You'd have to ask my family.  I barrel ahead with the force of a hurricane forgetting that many in my family are not built from brick, but from delicate wood, or glass, or stone.  It's possible they're not even finished putting together who they are.

Today, I hurt someone I love most in the world.  I can't take it back.  I can't make it not happen.  And I can't take the pain away - for either of us.  I'd like to say that it's because I'm in grief, but it really isn't.  I just try to do the best I can and sometimes I really screw up.  Like today.  I'm sorry.  Please forgive me.  When you can.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Earrings

One day, as I was going out shopping for Daddy, he said "Baby, take the leftover money and just buy yourself something with it."  Well, I had really been wanting a pair of plain silver hoops for my ears.  I found just the right pair, and have worn them almost daily since I bought them.

I wore them the whole trip home, and then misplaced them.  I checked my jewelry box, I checked my purses, the pockets of every piece of clothing I had brought, under the bed, in the bed....nope.  No earrings.  Every day, it had become part of my routine, but to no avail.

Last night as I was going to sleep, I said "Daddy, you and Jesus are up there together.  Surely you can see my earrings.  I really want them back."

This morning, big as you please, there were my earrings.  Right there, on the jewelry box.  I looked there a million times.  Thanks, Jesus and Daddy.  You knew what they meant to me.  Got them in my ears right now!
And you can be sure, I will keep up with them.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Returning to Reality

Yesterday, I spent all day working on my father's financial things.  I had thank you notes to write, phone calls to make, bills to pay, and just stay in the moment all day.

I called Lori, because I was bummed, but she didn't answer the phone.  Then, I called Lynn.  I got really upset because she wasn't answering the phone.  Then, I realized, I had a pack of cigarettes to my ear, and had put down the phone.  Reality?  Not yet.  

I see glimpses of it from time to time.  But I'm not really there yet.  I want to quit smoking.  I started again when Daddy got sick, and yes, it is a crutch, and I should quit.  This is in my head.  However, it has not gotten to my anxiety gremlins, so I continue to smoke.

I unpacked about 4 boxes today.  That felt good, and odd at the same time.  Lived with Dad for the better part of 9 months.  I accumulated a LOT of stuff.  However, this will give me a reason to clean the basement and purge what isn't most important to me.  In the five weeks we were home before the doctor found the new tumor, I cleaned everything out EXCEPT the basement and the closets.  I don't know, Tim Gunn. I have trouble believing that you should purge all the things you don't wear in a year.  Of course, with your salary, I'm sure you can do that.

What I really want to do is escape.  Maybe Fiji?  Daily massages, warm weather, and fish swimming under my hut.  Oh, did I mention tropical drinks?  That will have to wait for another time.

Right now, my sisters and I are holding hands and hearts, and walking through grief.  It sucks, but we have one another.  That's amazing and precious, and I treasure every minute of it.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Our Fox

Our fox is back.  I just caught him lounging in the sun under a tree in the back yard.  There's still a lot of snow, but he seems to find just the right spot every day.  I wonder where his wife and the little foxes are?  Are they off playing in the snow, or have they just hunkered down somewhere else? 

I like living in Colorado.  I love Pikes Peak, and the snow, and I love being in my home.  I don't know that it's ever felt more like my home.  I am unpacking a little at a time, so as not to become overwhelmed. 

There weren't any Christmas decorations to take down - thank goodness - because I don't think I have the stamina.  My life is good.  It's beginning to shift back into shape.  That's a really good thing.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

The Snow

It is snowing outside and we are supposed to be getting about six inches, which may have us snowbound tomorrow.  Oh, darn!

Snow always makes me think of Robert Frost.  Hence, the poem....

The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I marked the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
Robert Frost

I think of Daddy that way.  He took the road less traveled by, and it really did make all the difference in so many ways.  Thank you for that, Daddy.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Christmas Eve Musings

This year didn't at all turn out the way that I expected.  My father passed away on last Saturday.  It was my honor to care for him over the last 9 months.  With the help of my husband and my sisters, who took turns helping me with Dad, he passed peacefully.  He had pancreatic cancer, but the grace of God kept him from having pain.  He passed in his bed, with all of us there.

My Dad lived an amazing life, and so many people came to the funeral home and church to honor him.  I heard not a single negative word about my father from anyone.  He was referred to as a gentleman, always.  A person who gave to others, without asking anything in return.  A man who volunteered to do any task he saw that needed doing, and then did that task well.

I don't know if I will ever get used to the hole in my life where my Dad used to be, but I do know one thing.  I am going to strive to be more like him.  I am going to give my all, as his daughter, so that I will never disappoint him.  I know he's in heaven now, and what a wonderful season for him to meet up with his family again.

Christmas will never be the same for me, but I am not sad about Christmas.  Rather, I am blessed that the one thing Jesus wanted for Christmas this year was to be able to sit and visit with my Dad.
   
May you all know and share the peace and love of Christ this year.

Waking

Waking up in the morning is the most difficult thing I do.  Once I'm up, I force myself into the shower and get dressed, putting my makeup on.  Simple things.  But they seem the most difficult to do. 

For months, I got up and ran downstairs to see what Daddy needed.  Coffee? Breakfast? Meds?  Now I ask myself those questions.  What do I need?  Coffee? Breakfast? Meds? All of the above?

My husband is the most patient man I know.  He allows me to be morose, crying, happy, clingy...whatever it is, he is there for me.  Which I know is difficult, since he is also walking through deep grief. 

We watched the Cotton Bowl last night, and I was so wishing that I was sitting on Dad's couch, watching him laugh when I screamed at the refs, or cheered over the Tigers.  I think maybe he's talking to Jesus about the teams.  Tonight the Saints play - - come on, Daddy, do your stuff!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Necklaces and Sisters

I went to the Art Market in Baton Rouge the week before my sisters came for our final time with Daddy.  I found three amazing necklaces.  After studying them more closely, I realize that they are teardrops.   I saw them and knew that they were for us.  I had no idea that they were so closely related to each of us.  Iolite is my necklace.  Lori was garnet, and Lynn was pearl.  I haven't taken mine off.  I think my sisters are doing the same thing.

The beautiful thing is, we miss one another.   Desperately.  We are planning a get together before and after we probate Daddy's will.  I think that if Dad had been with me that Saturday, he would have chosen the same necklaces for us.  Although losing Dad has been decimating (I didn't want to get out of bed today), we have one another.  I grieve deeply for those who are alone and leave a loved one. 

We are all so different, and yet so much alike.  For the first time, we are not competitors, but friends.  Sisters.  Women who know who we are and love one another.  That would have made Daddy the most happy.  

If you wait until your loved ones are gone, there will never be any closure.  Daddy and I had closure, as did Dad and my sisters.  He knew he was loved.  He knew he could talk to us about anything.  Don't wait.  Connect.   Love.  Forgive and let go. 

Iolite -  One of its primary functions is to stimulate us as spiritual beings, guiding us to a higher awareness, and awakening us to the inner knowledge that so patiently waits within each of us.  Within you already lies the knowledge of the Universe.  Iolite will help you open that door.
Iolite helps one to stay in the moment and bring harmony to the self within, which is really helpful in not getting distracted when you are trying to meditate.
Iolite also helps eliminate and release discord in relationships.

Garnet - The Garnet is a stone of purity and truth as well as a symbol of love and compassion. The information released in a search may be painful, but it will always be what the searcher needs. The Garnet will help everyone's security level and spiritual awareness.

Pearl - The pearl is an astral stone for the signs Gemini and Cancer, and astrologers link it to the moon. It was said in some early cultures that the pearl was born when a single drop of rain fell from the heavens and became the heart of the oyster. Pearls have been called the 'teardrops of the moon'. Some believe that pearls were formed by the passage of angels through the clouds of heaven.


Thursday, January 6, 2011

Turkey and Other Stuff

My sister, Lynn, informed me that my blogs didn't seem to match up with the dates and times that I was blogging.  No wonder - I hadn't changed the time stamp from Turkey to mountain time.  Duh!

Today I am worn out.  Physically and spiritually and emotionally.  There are times when I think that I am just sleep walking through my life.  Today is one of those days.  I am getting enough sleep - probably 10 to 12 hours a night, but I still wake up exhausted.  I go to find my clothes and they're not in the right place.  They are how I left them here, but I still think I'm at Dad's.  I miss the smell of his house.  I miss sitting beside him watching Jeopardy, American Pickers, House Hunters International and football games. 

Everyone in the family has other things going on.  My sister Lori, God love her, is taking care of my Mom - who has Alzheimer's.  My sister Lynn has a 12 year old and a 14 year old girl.  Enough said.

My dear husband offers daily comfort and support for me.  Daddy got to see it first hand.  He loved the way we would step outside and sit and talk about our day every day.  He told me once that if he and Mom had done that, they may have still been married.

We have a family of foxes in our backyard.  He has a bad paw, and she won't leave him.  They sleep under one of our trees in the backyard, and now there are babies.  Foxes mate for life, and she won't leave him.  I like that.  It gives me hope. 

A gentle breeze is blowing outside, and there is snow on Pike's Peak.  It is a perfect day.  Almost.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Be Encouraged

I have recently acquired some William Hemmerling artwork.  He was an artist who moved from Chicago to the French Quarter.  One day, while at Cafe DuMond, Jesus sat down across from him at the table.  I know, I know, it's the French Quarter, but this was really Jesus.  It changed his life.  He passed away last year, but not after accumulating quite a sizeable body of work.  My favorite right now is called Miss Takes.  It says, "Be Encouraged.  Trouble don't last.  Wisdom.  A diamond was at one time a piece of coal and a frog was once a tadpole.  A river a stream, a star just a beam.

Daddy and David bought me four small ones, just prints, and had them framed for me for mother's day.  Daddy said that after all I had done for him, it was the least he could do.  It says, "At all times let thy garments be white and let not oil depart from thy head.  Live joyfully with thy family whom thou lovest."

Well, Daddy, I guess I'll leave the wearing of the white to you, but I do intend to live joyfully with my family whom I love deeply."  Thanks, Dad.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The Night

I went to bed at 11:00 last night and got up at 12:30 in the afternoon.  I am turning into one of those women you see in movies who stays in her gown and fuzzy slippers wandering around looking lost.  I hope it is a phase.  I think I am just worn out.  I ran into our bedroom door at least 3 times in the dark.  The doorknob on our door is opposite to what Dad's was.  I keep thinking I'm there, and I can't get out of the room.  My husband is threatening to lock it so that I don't fall down the stairs - they are located where Dad's toilet was.

I am trying to remember details, things I should be doing, how can I help my family?  But I'm a mess myself.  Me.  The one who always gets up, showers, does her hair, puts on her make-up.  Just in case I wander out of the confines of my home.  But I don't.  I don't want to.  Crowds make me cry.  It's just too much input, too much noise, too much to think about.  For someone who has always had an active mind like mine, the inside of my head feels like a bog.  And I'm not sure what will come out of it.  It's dark in there, and kind of creepy.  I would like to surgically open it, and take out the dark spots.  But I think they have to come out on their own. 

If I take a sleeping pill, then I do sleep, but I dream of Daddy.  If I don't take a sleeping pill, I lie awake and think of Daddy.  I feel like I should go and spend time with my Mother, though her mind has been troubled for years now with Alzheimer's.  Would it make a difference to her?  I hope so. 

Life has a funny way of just moving on, even when you're standing still.  And that's where I am right now, standing still.  I keep telling myself, "swing your feet over the bed, stand up, and walk."  It's a small step, but it usually works.  But not today.  Today, I am going back to bed - to read, to pray, and to remember Dad.  As if I could ever forget.

Monday, January 3, 2011

What is Grief?

Grief is an emotion caused by a great loss such as death or another major life event that causes extreme feelings of loss. It is a painful mental process that usually occurs in stages. Symptoms are feelings of disbelief, sadness, confusion and anger.

Our entire family is in grief right now, and it comes in waves.  My husband once said that grief is not linear, it comes and goes.  The process of working through grief is a difficult one.  On the one hand, if you let go, and allow yourself to feel joy, you immediately feel guilty for being happy after suffering loss.  On the other hand, if you walk around crying all the time, displaying your emotions openly, people think that you are possibly over-reacting.

My dad was never one to show much emotion at all.  I remember when his mother died, he cried, but he kept it to hinself - like he did most things.  The thing that I am missing the most is being able to call him and discuss every day things.  That stupid Saints game last night.  Who's going to the Super Bowl?  How can I help my son find his path?

We all did it.  Everyone who knew dad spoke to him as if he had the wisdom of the ages - and in many ways he did.  He was, quite simply, amazing.

For myself, I am taking it one minute at a time.  I am trying to work up to one hour at a time, then two, and so on.  I find myself reaching out to hold my husband's hand in the middle of the night to be sure that I am not alone.  I'm not alone.

We gave Daddy the greatest gift we could have given him.  We were all there with him when he passed away.  Perfect ending to an exceptional life.  Dad, we miss you.  We love you.  We hope you are jitterbugging in heaven, and that Mamma and Pappa are there with you.  God speed, Daddy.  May our dreams and remembrances of you never fade, but may the pain lessen as we move on.  You always were and always be our Hero.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

January 2, 2011

I look around my home today and see disorder.  Not the kind that happens when you just didn't pick up the newspaper from yesterday.  No, because I was only home 5 weeks this last year.  I have absolutely no idea how career writers who travel to and fro across the continents manage.  Are they slobs?  Do they hire cleaning women?  If so, where are these women?

I think the solution is the cleaning fairy.  No wages, no place to live, just conjure them up when you need them.  I feel silly today.  I guess you can tell.  For the first time in months, I had a wee too much to drink, crashed early and woke up late.  Luxury.  It is in the eye of the beholder. 

Back to the mess in my home.  I know that I need to clean, but not sure I'm going to.  I will read the Sunday papers.  I have already read my Scripture readings for today.  That Cain guy - - bad dude.  Really bad.  Think I'll also call my sisters.  Never really realized how much we love each other until Dad became so ill.  Now, we're lifelines.  It's like making a chain of inner tubes all hooked together with our arms, and approaching a waterfall.  We're going up and down together.  It's good.  It's really good.

See why the cleaning hasn't gotten done yet?  All of these things in my head, and they want to come spilling out.  Well, I say "Let them!"  I will not, however, promise to shape up, join a book club, or any of the other nonsense people promise for the New Year.  I will make one promise - I will never forget my Dad.  Make that two - I will do everything I can to stay close to my sisters.  We're family.  What else is there?

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Hope - to look forward to with desire and reasonable confidence.

In taking care of my father during the last 9 months of his life, this became our word.  Hope.  Hope for a cure.  Hope that the cancer would reverse.  Hope that he would see the new year.  While none of these things happened, we still maintained our hope until the very end.

Curious thing, this hope. When it lets us down, we still hold on.  When things seem impossible, it pulls us through.  Next to love, I think it could be the most positive word in the English language.
Without it, where would we be? 

January 1, 2011

This has been a difficult year, in so many ways.  I woke this morning with a sense of expectation over what the next year can bring! Hope springs eternal in the heart, and that's what is in my heart this morning. Although so many things really sucked this year, I feel that this year is a year of change - a year of freedom, a year I will enjoy!  

I've grown closer to my two sisters, which is amazing.  My husband and I have a closer relationship than ever - after ten years.  I feel an expectation, like Christmas morning when I was little and believed in Santa.  

I believe.  I do believe.