This holiday finds me a bit retrospective. The meaning of the day often gets lost in the picnics, pool-parties, barbecues, boat outings, and family gatherings that go hand-in-hand with a three-day weekend. I always take some time to reflect, remember, and honor those who have made it possible for me to live in this wonderful country with the freedoms that I have.
My grandfather on the mother’s side served proudly in the Pacific during World War II. He was a long-time Merchant Marine who found himself in San Francisco the day Pearl Harbor was bombed. Upon hearing the news, he went straight to the Navy recruiting office and signed up. He left his wife and newborn son behind to serve and protect our country and our way of life. I remember him telling me he was angry that we had been attacked, and he felt he needed to do his part.
He was awarded a Purple Heart and bore the scar on his stomach where he was shot. He would show us grandkids his scar now and then. It looked like a second belly button, and we grandkids thought it funny that he had a second belly button. It wasn’t until I was much older that I realized the seriousness of his war wound. He also lost a good part of his hearing, the result of being too close to an explosion, and I never knew him without hearing aids. He served his country with pride. When he passed in the mid-80’s, we honored him with an honor guard and a tombstone which reflects his service in the Navy and his rank. He was especially proud that he was not an officer. He always saw himself as an every-man, and he would say that most of the officers we jerks (although he did once confess that he had a few friends who were officers, with a twinkle in his eye.)
My other grandfather was one of four or five boys (my memory is foggy on this one,) who drew straws to see who would go to war. They were afraid that no one would be there to care for their mother or families if they all were to die in the war. He drew the short straw and stayed behind to take care of his mother and his brother’s families. He was proud to serve in that way.
One of my grandfathers had a brother who died in the war. I can’t remember which one, and I don’t really have anyone to ask. I think it was the mother’s father, but I can’t be certain.
Ironically, both of my grandfathers were raised without fathers. They both had a fierce sense of honor and family.
The father who raised me served in the Army during the brief period of “peace” between the end of the Korean War and the beginning of the Vietnam War. He eventually landed on Guam, where if I recall correctly, he was the company clerk. “Kind of like Radar,” I was told when the TV show MASH was popular. We hear they had a really good time on Guam. I never heard him speak much about that time. When his four years were up, he returned to the states, got a job, married, etc.
I learned two years back that my biological father was in the Air Force. He was a medic. I don’t have a lot of details, and I’m not sure if he served during wartime. I think he spent most of his time in Alaska. My aunt his sister, sent me his Air Force photo for Christmas two years ago. It’s a wonderful photo of a young, handsome man who I never knew. The only photo I’ve ever seen of him.
I have friends and acquaintances who have served our country over the years, both in war time and peace. I recall hearing that a number of boys I grew up with served during Desert Storm. Timing is everything, and we were the right age for them to go. I recall at the time the mother telling me, “Every generation has been in a war.”
To all the men and women who have served our country, to all who have given the ultimate sacrifice, a simple thank you does not suffice. I am humbled and forever thankful for your service to ensure our freedom.
Yesterday was Mother’s Day. I have had a rough time with Mother’s Day for 20 years. That’s a long time. A dear friend of mine told me today, “Time to let go of that hold she has on you…”
My friend is right. I just haven’t figured out how to do that yet.
20 years ago, probably in the February-March time frame, I excitedly announced to my parents that I was moving cross country, from California to Florida. I had thought about it a long time, I had friends there, and the time was right for me to make such a change.
I made the three-hour trip to their place one Friday after work. I took them to dinner at their favorite local haunt. Once dinner was done, I shared my news, expecting support and undying love.
That did not happen. Quite the opposite in fact. The mother became terribly angry. She accused me of telling them in a public place so she would have to “behave” (I later learned what THAT meant!) Try as I might, I could not convince them that I was unhappy in my current situation. Why? Because…”All you need is your family. I don’t know why you always have to go looking for things you don’t need. You always do that. You don’t appreciate any of us!”
I stayed until Sunday afternoon, as which point I had to get out of there. The anger and hostility was too much to bear. It never eased up. In 19 years, it never eased up.
I moved in September and made a new life for myself. The next 19 years were spent at the receiving end of a furious mother. As each year passed, it became worse. I didn’t return to visit after a while because I didn’t feel I needed that kind of hatred in my life. Every trip I did make left me battered and bruised emotionally.
I came to dread all holidays. Mother’s Day. Father’s Day. Christmas. Thanksgiving. Every single one of them.
She died a year ago April. The dread did not. I spent most of Mother’s Day crying and angry. Not because she is gone, because so many have loving mothers who they would walk through fire for. It pains me to know that I will never have that experience. Facebook is really good about showing all the love out there. I need to stay off Facebook on holidays.
I hate that she still has that hold over me. I picture her, wherever she ended up, pointing at me and laughing about it. She always told me that she would haunt me. For now she does. For now, until I learn how to release myself.
I drive past 12 osprey nests on the way to and from work. Most are within a one mile stretch of road. Every day o see the nests, and often times I see the birds, beautiful, magnificent creatures that amaze me.
I wish them good morning each day. I count how many I see. They make me smile. I know it will be a good day when I see them. How can it not be?
Friday night I happened upon an Osprey Cam for one of the nests. According to the blog, there were two babies and a third egg waiting to hatch. My bank has adopted these osprey and had ensured them a safe home. The story of this family is heartwarming.
Saturday I tuned in periodically throughout the day. I saw the mama and the babies, the papa bird bringing them a fish, the feeding. It was magical.
When I got news that a wonderful person I know received a devastating cancer diagnosis, I pulled up the osprey. When the work day ended and I was tired and overwhelmed, I pulled up the osprey. It was then I noticed one baby was motionless. I cried. The other baby was active and I clung to the idea that it was the bright spot of the day. New life, so cute, so sweet. Hope in a nest.
Over dinner I learned that a second wonderful person’s husband received a devastating cancer diagnosis. No way! Back to the osprey. As the sun began to set, mama and baby were settled in, and again, the adorable life in that nest was a bright shiny spot as I thought of my friends.
Sunday morning I tuned in. I couldn’t see the baby. My heart dropped and I became concerned. An hour later I saw the Facebook post: both babies had passed.
Mother Nature let me down.
I cried for an hour. I assumed the fetal position, snuggles with my cat and cried the loud, ugly cry. I cried off and on the rest of the day. I have tears now, even as I type this. What happened? Why? How do the parents feel? How will we go on?
Mother Nature had other plans for those sweet babies. Mother Nature can bite me…letting me fall in love then ripping my heart out. Heavy sigh.
Some days you need more baby osprey and less real life.
I checked the Osprey Cam yesterday evening and the mama was eating a fish. The nest looked so…quiet. Sadness washed over me again.
Today I will see the 12 nests I’ve become an expert at spotting. If I time my commute right I will see 4-8 osprey hanging out watching commuters go by. Eleven is the record.
I’m not sure my heart can take more bad news right now. May today be free of death and disease.
If you’d like to see my friends the osprey, you can tune into the live feed anytime. They are fascinating creatures that will continue to enchant me.
2016 goes down in the history books as being the most emotionally draining year ever! I am happy to wear a “Survivor” badge and be done with it!
Falling off the ladder was the easy part. Who woulda thunk it?
Brain injuries take time, and I have little patience. There are many things I now have to do differently. That’s ok. I can still do things!
The mother died in April. The emotional aftermath of that was (still is a bit) trying. Both my brother and I have suffered much anger. For a long time, I allowed myself to yell at her once a day. I do that a lot less often now.
My sweet niece went and had herself a baby a few weeks early in September. A little boy named Leo, who has the cutest little smile and giggle. My brother and sister-in-law are amazing grandparents, the kind we really didn’t have. Although our grandparents weren’t old when we born, they were. We as society are much younger at our age than they were at our age. Leo is the bright, shining light in a year of…2016. For everyone.
The father died after Thanksgiving. Another shock. I was sitting at home on Saturday evening when my brother called about 9:30. I had talked to him earlier that evening, so the horrible sense of dread washed over me. Apparently he died at dinner. Truth be told, he did love to eat. So that’s a good thing. He managed to hang around long enough to meet Leo. That’s a good thing too. His years of bad health are now behind him, and he and the mother can live in peace.
I didn’t get back to walking, and I took one yoga class. Now I feel like I didn’t get back to walking and took only one yoga class!
My direct sales business is still part-time. I go back and forth between low and high income producing months. I really am not consistent. Gotta work on that!
I saw 2017 in with a bang…actually, sound asleep. I feel asleep at 5:30pm New Years Eve, woke around 8pm, was asleep again by 10pm. It left as quietly as it came, and I let the door bang it on the ass on the way out.
Here’s to 2017! A bright, shiny new year full of promise, hope, love, and peace. I have great plans. I will become physically active again. I signed up for a 5K in March, so I’d better! I will grow my direct sales business. I will make new friends to invite to my cool Facebook group. I am doing the 6-Week Intentional Action Course, and while I’m behind a week, I’m still in. I will go to bed earlier and get up earlier so I can get more done in a day. I will lose some weight before my niece’s wedding. Yes, we get a wedding this year! I will blog consistently and figure out all the other social media stuff that baffles me. I will re-brand myself, relaunch my biz, and relaunch ME!
2017 will be amazing!
Friday morning, a reminder popped up on my phone first thing:
Yes, that was, and still is, my pet name for my mother. I said the “F” word and threw my phone down. Then I cried a little. I’m not really sure why I cried. Sadness at what was never there? Anger for what was? I’m not sure. I promptly put it out of my mind.
Saturday morning I got a message from my brother:
“First thing when grabbing my phone I check FB. 1st notification: Today is (insert mother’s name) birthday. Help her to celebrate it. 70 years old. Fuck.”
I laughed. I messaged him back that I got a reminder yesterday. Then I called him and told him I’d never heard him use that word before.
We laughed about how the reminders made us react. I guess that’s healthy? Are we healing? He said he always remembers hers and the father’s birthdays because they are double digits. Hers is 10-22. The father’s is 11-11. Then he realized that 11×2=22. We laughed some more. Then I said, “This takes their whole co-dependent thing to a new level!”
We then decided that we were going to file this and get on with our days. His daughter had just arrived with his new grandson, and he was going to go be the amazing grampa that he is. I relaxed, snuggled with the cats, and had a nice day as well.
We have now survived the first Mother’s Day and first birthday. We’re getting better at it I think. I try really hard not to let her have any of my glitter anymore.
PS, anyone know how to disable a FB profile that no one knows the login or password to?
When last we met, I was recovering from a fall from a ladder. A few…developments, yes, we shall call them developments, have taken place since them…
- I joined a Direct Sales company. If anyone had told me a year ago I would be in Direct Sales, I would have laughed at them. What can I say? Everything clicked.
- I turned 50, with zero fanfare. In fact, I had the flu and was pretty darn miserable. Every plan I had was cancelled due to the ankle and head situation. Then I got sick. I will celebrate next year!
- I discovered I was mis-diagnosed, and had a pretty significant concussion. Significant. Concussion. My doc was pretty horrified.
- My mother died. It’s ok. She’s in a much better place and is happy and at peace for the first time in years.
- I was forced to slow down and reassess my entire life – how I live, what I do, my daily activities, what is important, what is not – there has been a big shift.
Let’s start with the head injury. It’s been four months and twenty days. I still have a lump and swelling on my head. I can no longer multi-task. I am unable to lift anything more than about seven pounds without “feeling it”. I forget my words from time time to time. I tired easily. Headaches are more frequent. I become extremely anxious when I see anyone on a ladder. I am now terrified of ladders. Stressful situation trigger issues. I have been forced to slow down, as I can not manage well with a lot of physical or mental exertion. I mean WAY down. Life is different. It has shifted.
I am beginning to see small improvements. They can not happen fast enough for me. I’m told it could be a year before I’m “normal” again. Normal. What is that? Do I really want to be who I was before the ladder incident? Hmmmm. I kind of like new me.
I named my concussion Herman. I visualize him as one of those green gremlins that got wet and was fed after midnight. Herman and I are co-existing. Some days he takes the lead, some days I take the lead. Some days he’s quite obnoxious. I work hard to not aggravate Herman.
The ankle is healed and unsteady. It gets sore easily. I’ve not walked since I fell because I’ve not been up to the exertion. I plan to start soon, as I need to do one more thing to move forward.
My mother died after many years of ups and downs with her physical and mental health. I was unable to fly, and could not go out when it all came down. While I would have liked to be there to support my brother, Herman saw to it that I kept my feet on the ground. She is now at peace.
Life is different. Everything has changed. I have modified so many things in my life and how I live it, I look back in amazement. I have a good attitude. I do NOT let it get me down. I get frustrated with it sometimes, but I will win in the end. Slow and steady wins the race.
That’s the recap of the last few months. Taking life one safe step at a time. Managing Herman. Embracing the new shifts. Living each day with intention rather than just living. Life is a gift.
Cats will find their own way down. Do not climb a ladder to save one.
If you are moving too fast, you will fall down stairs and off of ladders. Slow down. Look around. Smell the roses.
Some people want to live and fight hard to do so. Some don’t. You can not force someone to live who no longer wants to.
Direct Sales is actually a pretty good gig. Don’t believe everything you hear.
Meditation helps calm me and prepare me for what the day has in store.
Not everyone gets a second chance like I did. I am eternally grateful and don’t want to waste a minute.