Forgiveness

 

I have spent a fair bit of time in the last week thinking about what forgiveness means to me and how much better my life has been since I decided a few years back to start forgiving folks for my own good. I wasn’t particularly concerned with how it made them feel, and in most cases, they aren’t even aware that they were forgiven for their trespasses against me.

I wrote a few months back about a horrific accident that occurred here in the country that I call home and my own survivor’s perspective of the aftermath of these sort of events. I was focused mostly on the hope that all the support the boys and their families had following the accident, would continue through the years to come.

This past week it was announced that the driver of the semi that struck the bus has been charged with 16 counts of dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing death. The general consensus seems to be that he blew through a stop sign. He will have his day in court, or many, and based on the comments I have read (don’t ever read the comments section!) he will likely be far safer in jail or prison than he will ever be out on the streets again, unless he changes his appearance drastically. That saddened me. Really saddened me and brought up feelings I have long held onto related to my own “accident”.

Prison will not be the worst punishment he endures- not even close.

While I was never charged with anything following mine, my passenger in the car with me died that afternoon. She was very young- only 20. So, I am in the unique position of actually somewhat understanding what is going through that man’s head right now- and none of it is good. The only reason I didn’t receive criminal charges was because it was a known trouble spot of an intersection, and following my crash, the transportation safety board removed that particular vehicle crossing and made a new entrance. Here, it takes so many accidents/deaths by number, before they will make changes like that.

I was sued twice following – once by the step-father of my passenger, and once by the train conductor- each request was for a million dollars. I had been warned it would likely happen, as in the case of family members who lose a loved one, it is pretty standard practice. In my relative naivety, until the insurance company contacted me, I thought I was personally responsible for paying those millions, as I received my copy of the first letter prior to the insurance company receiving theirs.

I was still recuperating physically and hadn’t even begun the work on my psychological wounds when I received the letter from the step-father. I was in a pretty dark place and only dealing with those things that were absolutely necessary, like finding someone to drive to grocery store with my bank card to buy food for my kids, and doing my best to wake up alive every morning.

Every night/morning for over a year, I would jerk awake sometime between 1 and 3 hearing the horns and the screams and tasting the blood and smelling the gasoline, and feeling the weight of April’s body slamming into mine as that train hit us. Every single sense I had, wide awake and stabbing at me like unforgiving needles.

Not one inch of my body or mind was spared on those nights.

I would lay there and look up at the ceiling after the terrors and wonder if this was why I had been spared death, and not her. I wondered about suffering and retribution and about heaven and hell and how we all pay the piper in our own ways and in our own time.

I would try to understand the why’s.

Why her? Because she was pure and full of light and love and her journey here was over. She had done everything she was sent here to do. She had taught and learned the lessons and fulfilled her contracts with others.

Why not me? Because I deserved to suffer and be in pain. I had run and dodged and slipped my way through every dangerous event and place I had allowed myself to be a part of. Now I had taken a life. I had murdered a young girl with my stupidity and inattention to my surroundings. Only the good died young, as my mother used to say, so I was pretty damn sure I was left here with the purpose to feel this pain for the rest of my days. 

I worked with a psychologist who specialized in PTSD, and slowly started to heal. She utilized EMDR therapy on me, which was exhausting emotionally, but was extremely successful with my psychological trauma. It was the first and only time in my life that I went in search of help of that kind, having been brought up in a home where we kept our private problems in-house, and not to be shared with outsiders. During my time with Robin, other things came out that I had long forgotten, so it turned into much, much more than it had originally been meant to be. I saw her until my extended health benefits dried up. She had provided me with the tools I needed to take my first steps onto the path of actually living again.

Not surviving, not healing, not enduring- actually wanting to move forward and live again, for my sons and even for myself.

I will always hold a special place in my heart for her help in showing me the way through it all to the other side. At the end of our last session, she gave me a big hug and told me I needed to truly forgive myself or I would never recover fully.

5 years after my accident, I received a letter from a psychologist that was treating the mother of my passenger. He asked me if I would allow him to send me numbered questions from his patient, who was struggling to move forward with her own life following the loss of her daughter. He was working with her on forgiveness. On forgiving herself for past events during the time she was raising her daughter, and on forgiving me, in order to let go of the hate she held in her heart.

I sat on a chair in my kitchen for over an hour, holding that letter in my hand.

I traced my fingertip over and over the stamp edging, round and round, while my mind wandered to how I was going to deal with this request. In the days following, I asked my son, and my mother for their advice on what they thought I should do.

They both told me to not respond at all; their concern was for me and the progress I had made, and they worried that I would slide back if I had to relive any of it again.

What neither of them knew, was that I had never stopped living it. Not for one moment of the time since it had occurred. It was so entrenched in every part of me, it was now cellular.

Like the blood flowing through my heart, or the oxygen moving through my lungs.

I wore it like a branding on my soul and always would.

I ended up answering her questions and sent them back to the psychologist. I was more concerned with her healing than I was with my own. Some of them were very difficult to answer.

I lied on the ones that I thought would only hurt her more. Questions about her relationship with her stepfather. Questions about why she left home. Questions about if she had ever shared information with me about her mother’s decision to side with her stepfather, rather than with her. I lied about her forgiving her mother for that. I lied and said she told me only a day earlier that she loved and missed her mother very much.

I answered truthfully on the questions that related to the accident itself.

She was dead instantly- she didn’t linger or suffer- she didn’t cry out in pain.

In the moments leading up to the impact, she was laughing and singing and excited and full of life and love.

I licked the envelope when I was done answering her questions, and walked the letter to the nearest mailbox.

I remember sitting on a rock after and looking at the clouds in the sky, through teary eyes, watching them slowly move and morph in shape as they drifted lazily above me. The sun was in the exact position it was in on that day in June, casting the same warmth, blinding me with the same dazzling rays, but this time I was alone.

While I was sitting there, a white butterfly caught my eye, and I watched as it fluttered and danced and flew closer and closer to me. From blade of grass to tree branch, to post, eventually landing on the top of my hand.

Its wings were transparent in the sunlight and I slowed my breathing and sat perfectly still, watching it settle in on my hand, twitching its wings softly on my skin. Seeing the flesh of my hand through its wings- watching in wonder as it sat there on my warm hand.

It stayed with me for as long as I needed it to and then flew away up towards the clouds in the blue sky.

I watched it until it disappeared from my sight and then got up and headed home to my children.

 

Advertisements

Heeling(Healing) Soles(Souls)

I have been feeling a little vulnerable lately and not even well enough to tap away at the keys.

Today I decided it might be good to wander about on Word Press for a bit and the first place I always wander is to Calen’s.

Her Sandbox Challenge this week was this:

What message just for you is hidden in this ancient writing?

maya writing.1

My first thought upon looking at the image was how remarkably similar it was to my heels. Then the thought popped up that I have been meaning to book a pedicure for the last month or so but that real life has intruded on even that one hour of peace and comfort I could have provided for myself. I really could have booked that appointment- had the number on my cell and would be basically two taps with my finger directly to the shop.

But I have been so tired. SOOO incredibly tired and low energy. Useless.

I have completed the tasks that need doing, like working and taking care of my cat, but other than that, I have basically sleepwalked through the last few weeks.

I know what started it.

It was seeing the news that humans have now sunk to the low of caging children.

I like to think I am pretty cynical and jaded, and I truly told myself that there was no possible way he would be allowed to sink this low, without someone…ANYONE…stopping him and his need to feed his fractured ego with evil-doing.

But, as has happened many times in the past- I was wrong.

I read, I watched, I listened to audio and then I shut down. I just could not take anymore.

And my feet and the rest of me suffered for it and continue to suffer.

I have some sort of strange rash appearing on my back, which I think is atopic eczema. The irony of this affliction is that the worst thing for the little dry patches is water.

Dry, itchy, aggravating. Especially when I cant reach it except with the spaghetti scoop which comes to bed with me every night.

My feet and my back and my soul all make me feel dry and itchy and aggravated and out of sorts.

Barren and empty, like desert flowers begging for any sort of nourishment to make the cracks disappear and replenish the cells with the fluid of life.

I need to know that I am not the only one feeling the cracks and caverns and schisms occurring right now in the world.

Am I the only one who sees fire and burning and hears children crying for their parents?

I don’t take good care of myself when I don’t feel well emotionally.

I really let myself go.

I am not sure why that is.

Is it the effort and energy required from an exhausted woman or is it disinterest or the knowledge that one day this husk that carries the me that matters will not longer require tending?

What any logical woman would do would be to book that appointment for the next few days and even add a manicure to the appointment, as there is no better feeling than having both sets of nails done and pretty.

But it seems so pointless to me right now.

I instinctively know that my looks are not going to matter in the next while for the work that may need to be done and what my part in it may be.

I’ve let my hair grow long and rarely wear it down unless I am brushing it, which I do often. Brushing my hair soothes me and my spirit, for some reason. My hair is drying out too, and I have stopped colouring it. It is pure white like my mother’s in the front- beautiful white. I frequently braid it, to keep it off my face and out of my way. Then I unbraid it, while reading tweets about monsters and the people who lie and abet them with their evil.

I don’t speak of the terrors I feel often, as I can tell people are sick and tired of all things political and don’t want to hear it. Those people would rather sit back and then moan and wring their hands once it is all over. I know those people. There were so many of them during the Holocaust.

So, so many.

My hypervigilance is a symptom of my PTSD. I know that. But I also know I am not crazy and I can feel the danger.

I can even taste it some days. It tastes like metal or copper. A bit like blood, in fact.

I am doing what I can in order to soothe the trauma-beast within me in whatever way I can to keep it from becoming more hungry.

I might drive out to the mountains this weekend and spend a day sitting on a log thinking of nothing but the scent of the air around me.

It is supposed to rain.

I can tilt my head back and open my mouth and let it in.

I can wiggle my feet while the rain falls over them.

Maybe it will fill up the cracks and heal them.

Maybe I will breathe deeply again.

Maybe.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Totally, Absolutely 100% There

What do you wish others would take with them after meeting with you?

I think my greatest wish is that following time spent with me, people would leave feeling like I listened to what they had to say and share with me.

That they had 100% of me while they were with me and that I made them feel I was listening to what they said and also all the small things that they couldn’t quite get out and verbalise.

I find I do my best listening and understanding when there is no noise or distractions.

No clutter to shield what is really going on inside someone.

I want to observe and feel intuitively what is churning inside of them. I have always used my intuitive emotional tools far better than I ever did my basic senses.

I am not the friend you go to with your every day problems with your husband, as I will tell you up front that is not my area of expertise, and will likely just listen and let you go off to do whatever it is you have already decided to do anyway; long before you ever came to ask me for my opinion about it.

I have had some unbelievable experiences and have spent time with some eclectic characters during my life. To paraphrase Rudyard Kipling, I have walked with Kings but never lost my common touch.

Frequently I go walking in a park nearby. There is a reservoir where folks take out their sailboats, a playground for the kids and a great walking trail. There are also times that I go just to sit and watch the water. Not once have I ever sat there by myself without someone joining me on the bench and engaging me in conversation of some sort.

I think I am just “that lady” to the world. Safe-looking, unassuming, usually in yoga pants and a baggy old sweatshirt or flannel shirt belonging to one of my sons or an ex, my hair up in a messy ponytail.

Strangers tell me the most personal stories you can imagine and so much so, that my family laughs about how I am always accosted in malls or discount stores, parking lots, line ups in the pharmacy and yes- just sitting in the park. My older son that looks so much like me has this same phenomenon, so we joke with each other that it must be something about our faces.

What is a bit jarring is that much of what they spontaneously share with me is something  I have personally experienced. I am able to give them a name or a number or a referral to an agency that I know can help them.

Sometimes I just listen and watch what their eyes say or how their hands move or twist at each other in the telling.

I was brought up to look someone in the eyes when they are interacting with me and it is one of the rules that has stuck. I don’t sigh or move around impatiently and keep glancing over their shoulders or downward when someone is speaking to me. Anyone  talking to me knows I am listening and there.

Humans need to be heard and listened to.

Not to be fixed.

Acknowledged.

Hearing is a physical ability, but listening is an emotional skill.

I hope that when people have spent time with me, they knew they had all of me.

100% of everything I had, for whatever moments in time we spent together.

That would be enough.

 

 

 

The Last of the Bad Boys

What door have you closed in your life, and why?
Will you ever open it again?

I almost recall writing something for a prompt like this one time, and should go see what I responded then, but in reality, it was likely something completely different, and that would make perfect sense to me at this point in my journey.

I have been in 3 relationships in my life that I would classify as serious.

One I married and two I didn’t. To add to the confusion, I am still legally married to the 1st and likely will be for the rest of my life, as I took a stand and refused to pay the paltry $ 230.00 to file for the divorce, insisting he do it, and I am rather afraid that after years of towing the line with that stubborn man, I decided that refusing to suck it up and pay would be my hill to die on – my last hurrah- my middle finger adios to that man.

That first relationship started when I was 17 and ended when I was 34. In all honesty, it likely should have ended 10 years before that, but there were children to feed, and thoughts that boys needed their father, and a definite dread of the unknown. My wings had not even started to bud yet, so stay I did.

For awhile. Physically.

The second , who we will refer to as Rebound – began when I was still tied up in the first and the third – let’s call him Broken Billy – began while I was untangling, not so graciously from the second.

I understand my part in the breakdown of these relationship and take full responsibility for my lack of communication in at least two of them. There is only one of them that I allowed to see the whole me – the saviour, the sinner, the grotesque, and the reprehensible.

Broken Billy is my last relationship, which took place from 35-52, and in the most literal sense, almost finished me, in every way possible.

I really should back up a bit, though, and talk about Rebound for at least a paragraph. He was an American that I met through work. He had a contract with the software company I worked for and used to frequently be at my office for weeks at a time. Due to the sad state I was in at the end of my marriage, it was so easy for my eyes to see him as my knight on a white horse. He was handsome, charming, very witty, and so, so smooth, compared to what I was used to in men. He was educated. He dressed really well and smelled even better. We had a mutual love of music, which I had never experienced during my marriage. Anytime I put on music, my ex husband would yell to turn it off. I know this sounds crazy, but if you are a music lover, you will understand this on such a deep level.

So, as these things usually go, I allowed myself to be swept up by Rebound and when he wasn’t in Canada, I was down in California with him. I must have known he was only with me for a season, as my children never met him, and he asked me many times to arrange that. I will always be eternally thankful to him for building me back up, after the years of wilting on the vine I had done with my husband. He made me feel beautiful and desirable and pampered me in ways I wasn’t aware were even possible. He was very financially secure and took me to restaurants and bought me clothing and flowers and it was like living in a dream state. He eventually wanted me to move to California and live with him, but I couldn’t take my sons so far away from their Dad, so sadly, I ended it with him. Not in a nice clean way, either.

In the way I always do.

Drift, drift, drift away until I have disappeared without you even knowing I am gone.

Don’t feel badly for him – he is married now and retired to Phoenix and apparently raising his wife’s granddaughters with her, which is nice, as he never had children of his own.

During the time I was with Rebound, I saw a well-known psychic in California and not one of the hucksters. One that was very successful for many years and built quite the empire with books, media, and appearances. I asked her one question and it was if Rebound loved me. She looked me right in the eyes and said ” yes, he loves you, but the next one will love you more than anyone ever has or ever will for the rest of your life.”

Broken Billy showed up in my life thanks to my ex husband. We used to laugh about how he introduced us, actually. How ironic life could be sometimes. I think about that sometimes now, looking back and it makes even more sense now that, of course he showed up that way.

My brother was couch surfing at my place at the time, and had left my phone number with BB, as the last time he saw him, he didn’t know where he would be, but his sister would always know, so gave him my phone number at the house I no longer lived at- hubby refused to leave, so I moved out with the kids.

So, BB shows up at my place, looking for my brother, and finds him. I just happened to be having friends over that evening, and he stayed, as he hadn’t seen my brother in a year or so. It was a beautiful summer night, and some of us were outside and some of us inside, and at one point I walked back inside to refill a drink or grab more chips for the bowl and came upon the sight of BB sitting with my older son, who was about 13, in a corner, looking through his sketchbook with him. My son looked so happy to have the attention and I felt a profound overwhelming love in my heart, that he dragged that sketchbook everywhere with him, and someone was showing interest in his talent. His own Dad had shown little of that, and it hurt us both.

I had just sort of bookmarked BB into the “brother’s friends” category, and they were mostly a motley crew, so I was surprised to see one of them choosing to spend time talking with a teenager at a party where there were plenty of adults to socialize with. It saddens me now, that I would be struck so deeply at the time by a simple act of kindness towards my child.

It made me look at him differently.

I had always been with big men, tall men, loud men.

BB was only an inch or so taller than me. Soft spoken. Slight.

He almost looked like an accountant, which is hilarious if you knew the types of men I usually go for.

He made no sense to my friends and even less sense to me, but he was persistent!

I now know that a lot of what occurred should have been red flags , but I was too stupid and naïve to see any of them.

He moved in with me 2 months later. It made sense. He was there all the time anyway and when he wasn’t there, he was on the phone to me constantly. Checking up on me and the kids.

Asking if I needed anything.

Making himself indispensable.

Weaving himself seamlessly into my life.

He shared so many secrets with me about his childhood. Horrific tales of insane, abusive stepfathers, and molestation and neglect. I held him while he cried, and my maternal, nurturing, codependent self just inhaled all that pain and suffering like it was oxygen and I needed it to survive. I engulfed his agony in all its glory and made it my own.

He checked himself into Casa Shannon and totally absorbed me in every way.

I asked him one pitch black night to just go slowly. I begged him to not make me fall in love with him. I was terrified. I had never experienced a symbiotic relationship like this before and must have had some precognition that I would not survive it if I allowed myself to fall.

The highs were so high with him….oh, but those lows…they were absolutely death-defying in every way.

Broken Billy had found his parasitic twin soul in me, with my dysfunctional childhood and lack of attention my entire life. Grown up in chaos and unpredictability and now madly pin-wheeling backwards right into the womb of uncertainty and danger with a partner by my side.

He will always be the love of my life and I don’t have the energy to tell that entire tale today, but it wasn’t pretty and it ended very, very, very badly.

Hurt people hurt people.

Broken people reach for things that will numb them from the memories that will not give them a moment’s peace, playing over and over and over again in their minds.

They steal goodness, and hope, and dreams and love, and they feed and they feed and they feed over and over like piranhas on anything pure and honest and full of light, trying to fill themselves in all the places they are empty.

Even when you give them everything you have, and are, and eventually turn into someone you don’t even recognize.

When you disappear totally from the inside out and fear you will never find yourself again.

They never let go.

Not because they love you more than anyone ever has or ever will, but because you are their last branch to hold onto when the river is rising and it is human instinct to pull someone under to drown with you, even when they are trying to keep you alive.

The door that is closing for me and never opening again is loving anyone more than I love myself.

A Hairy Situation & Making Lemonade

If you could, what parts of yourself would you throw out?

I wish I could be all blasé and “woman-power” and act like I am perfectly comfortable in my middle-aged body. Smiling at myself in the mirror upon awakening every single morning in wonder at the transformation that seems to take place every night while I sleep.

I so want to be that graceful, all-knowing woman, who welcomes the aging process taking hold all over her body, as she books a yoga class or weekend retreat to some coastal spa, where she will consume nothing but raw kale and green tea, sitting in a cross-legged pose, and listening to nothing but the sound of birds, or waves or Enya.

I want to be her so badly that I can picture her in my mind and I know she has a name like Caryline, or Kathryn, or Jayne with the random “Y” just carelessly tossed into the mix- but it seems so far away from my reality.

749483168bad04bb1057b443a1917d59--silver-grey-hair-white-hair

I have been a pretty a good sport about this aging shit – I really, really have.

I have accepted my new stomach, and the loss of my once rounded bottom.

I woke up one morning and realized to my horror when I accidently glanced in the bathroom mirror while stepping into the shower that they had somehow decided to switch places! The fullness of my bum had sneakily moved around my waist somehow and placed itself in the front of my body at some point during my sleeping hours! And no matter how much celery I ate or how many squats I reluctantly did, while watching Sister Wives, and yelling at the t.v. ” you should ALL grab a few brother-husbands and fix his little red wagon but good!”, I have never been able to coax those body parts back to their original home stations. So, I reluctantly made lemonade with the lemons and moved on. I started eyeballing tunics and leggings online and laughed until I cried at the “shapers” that had built-in bums in them.

shaper
Side note: Shapers my ASS! Call it a girdle, girl – our mothers certainly did and who are we to think we are somehow better than that generation at the aging game, anyway? I can still recall the first time I walked in on my Mom fighting to get into one, and the combination of my squeal of utter shock and her efforts to get the damn thing up over her hips made us both erupt into giggles that left us gasping for breath afterwards. Me from giggling, and her, I’m sure, due to the combination of laughter and the oxygen restriction she was enduring due to the vice-grip that girdle had on her abdomen.

The lemonade I have made out of the sad state of my 60’s era National Geographic cover-worthy boobs, is that on cold winter days, while I am sitting in my house and feel the chill, they provide bonus warmth to my new stomach, and have actually become pretty good friends, as a result! They almost seem to suffer separation anxiety on the rare occasions when I need to strap on one of my industrial strength bras, with the steel reinforcements, and the 23 clips required in order to constrain all that matronly sexiness that just wants to ooze out at the most inopportune times in public. I’ll be totally honest here – sometimes just getting the thing on winds me – similar to the days I need to swap comforters out of the duvet covers.

Life’s a struggle and we all have our hills to conquer, but we carry on, don’t we ladies?

The hardest thing to make lemonade out of for me regarding the aging process has been the hair situation occurring in the last few years. This unforgiving trauma I endure on a daily basis has been one of the stealthiest missions of my life as a woman, and my secret shame.

In my youth, I had eyebrows like Brooke Shields. I actually had what some affectionately refer to as a “unibrow”, in fact. I was not allowed to pluck my eyebrows or shave any body part OR paint nails until I reached the age of 14 (some of my mother’s rules were absolutely wack- just pick an age out of your ass and make it law? Regardless of circumstance or evidence to the contrary??)

a98293_rsz_man_unibrow
My Grade 7 School Picture

But I digress – the minute I hit 14, I went off in a frenzy of hair removal and nail painting. I spent more time pulling hair out of my body than I did eating, or sleeping or exercising, or cutting the David Cassidy pictures out of Teen Beat. Any pictures of me from that summer show my sleek, tanned, bare legs with cute polish on the toes and my brassy Sun-In’d tresses blowing in the breeze. Two razor-thin lines where my eyebrows used to be – one cocked up in what I thought made me look quizzical, and mature. Oh- and my boobs where they belonged- their original placement, their designated lane.

I have barely any eyebrows now. A few wispy strands here and there. And the majority of them a glaring white that makes me squint if I look too close. It can sometimes make my head ache so bad from the glare that I need a vodka cocktail vitamins to make the pain go away. So, I sit there, with my cocktail vitamins and stare into the abyss mirror deciding which method I should deploy on that day to draw some on. I have pencils, and brow powders, and fancy brushes designed specifically to create eyebrows. Every shade from auburn to gray. Because the white hairs hurt my self esteem eyes, I usually pluck them all out, leaving myself with a larger canvas to work on. Most days, I just style my hair so that my bangs are hanging down past them, and call it a job well done!

Pat myself on the back for my exquisite time management skills.

The lemonade I cannot make and refuse to swallow involves my eyelashes. Somehow, maybe during that period of time that my ass went AWOL, my eyelashes started one by one dragging themselves down my face towards my chinny-chin-chin. I couldn’t swear in a court of law that the little hairs ARE my missing eyelashes, but I suspect that is what happened. So, now there is the extra work of removing them from my chin and then because life is so brutally unfair that it HAS to be a man, I cannot simply move them back where they belong – I have to decide whether I am going to use 56 coatings of mascara, glue a set of fake ones on ( glue= kryptonite), or just say screw it, and let my bangs grow even longer until they are completely covering my eyes. The mascara option is the one I most frequently choose, as it doesn’t involve the potential for blindness that the eyelash glue does and has frequently in the past.

The only downside to the mascara is that even with the application of the $40 primer to my eyelids, I end my days looking in a mirror to the sight of the menopause spiders© above my eyes. I assume it is because my temperature these days fluctuates from arctic deep freeze all the way to tropical rainforest, sometimes within a 5 minute span of time, but I am starting to take it personally, and that always means more vitamins.

mascara
Menopause Spiders ©

The plus side to all of this aging bullshit, and disappearing body parts, and the sketchy hair realignment process, is that once you are my age, nobody really looks at you anymore anyway!

You are past the age of child-bearing, out tripping through the world blindly due to your long bangs, and the fact that your melting pool of mascara has temporarily blinded you. You are light-headed from the constriction of your bra and shape wear, hot-flashing like a mutha, sleep deprived and quite possibly in search of anyone to be mad at due to your raging hormones and the fact your face is slowly morphing into Doc’s from Back to the Future.

And you know what the answer to all of that is, don’t you?

MORE vitamins!

vodka
Vitamin V ©

Hey Mom

Hey Mom,

It’s such a beautiful day today and I know how much you love warm sunny days and taking every opportunity to spend your time outside during them.

One of my earliest memories is sitting on the back step watching you with clothespins in your mouth, carefully hanging all our whites out in the sun so they would be dry by noon, and the line ready for all the heavier clothes to dry in afternoon heat.

You always seemed so much happier outdoors. It was like the sun soothed you, and the fresh air somehow carried your many worries away with the breeze. You would find any excuse to be outside the house, whether that was coaching baseball, spontaneously deciding the house needed repainting, or just sitting in a lawn chair in the evenings, having coffee with the neighbours or my friends as we grew old enough to take part in adult conversations.

While going through your things, I spent a lot of time picking through pictures in a box- snapshots in time of you as a child, and teenager. Formal shots lined up in front of Grampa’s stunning flower beds, and silly shots of you being at the lake with your Mom.

Those pictures made my heart ache for some reason. I never knew that carefree you, with the ear to ear grin. I wondered at what point in your life that apparent sass left you and the more somber, reserved you appeared.

Was it Dad and the price you paid for loving  a broken man like him?

Was it the weight of carrying all the responsibility for keeping us all alive, as the only adult in the room?

I so wish I could have magically traveled through time just to spend one day with you back when your smile was like that and your eyes sparkled with fun and mischief. If we could have somehow been contemporaries, living in the same time and place- would we have been friends? I think we may have been, you know. I see traces of myself in those pictures of you. I had that same trust in my eyes looking at you, as you had looking at your Mom. Not crystal-clear and evident in a quick glance, but there if you spent the time analyzing the snapshots closely.

Definitely there, Mom.

We always struggled, you and I, but always came back together, after a time out- a cooling off period. You would just suddenly call like nothing had ever happened, and I would respond back in the same vein, our problems buried instead of resolved.

You never apologized once for any disagreements or arguments we had. I felt so overpowered by your opinions and beliefs that I could feel myself shrinking in your presence, fumbling, stuttering for the words that I could never seem to find in order to  defend myself or my choices, or my actions.

You were right in the end about oh so many things, Mom, and I should have listened to you and followed your advice. I certainly became the queen of cutting off my nose, to spite my face, now, didn’t I? I can hear you laughing right now at me dusting off that old gem. I still use “gallivanting” and “jack of all trades, master of none” on at least a monthly basis, though, so your words didn’t totally fall on deaf ears. I heard you even when I was pretending not to.

My boys adore you, Mom, and did from the first time they looked into your eyes as infants and felt your overwhelming love for them. Your most uninhibited and loving moments were your moments with my boys. Mark and I would laugh about how you transformed into a woman we didn’t know at all with them. The woman who would give potato chips on the side rather than vegetables with a sandwich. The woman who actually cut the crusts off the bread for the picky eater, or who suddenly thought Popsicles and Freezies were suitable main courses for that same picky eater, while simultaneously coaxing Flintstones vitamins into him.

Watching you with my children thawed something inside of me, Mom, and made our relationship better than it had ever been in the past; closer, more authentic and honest. I would frequently ask your advice and heed it, knowing you knew better than I did and had raised children to adulthood, while I was still a novice. It was suddenly me, rather than you, coordinating time with each other. It was me calling you you crying and scared about how high a fever could go before it was an emergency, and it was your calm, soothing voice I clung to for dear life, as you explained all the times you had sat up yourself with feverish babies and children during the night hours.

Showing up at my door after working all day and insisting I hand the colicky, screaming baby over to you so you could walk with him, which allowed me to take a shower and get out of my pajamas at 5 P.M. Reassuring me that he hadn’t stopped crying for you because I was a horrible mother, but had just cried himself tired and that he sensed my fear, so kept reacting to it. Then you told me to grab my purse and go for a walk or a drive- to go away for an hour or two and leave you with him and his brother. God, if you only knew how much that hour provided me with the strength to come home and start it all over again. I cannot even remember if I thanked you properly for that or not and that dismays me now. Thank you, Mom- your help made me such a better mother than I could have ever been on my own without your sage advice and counsel.

You have always, always, been there for me, along every stage of my life and I know I have hurt you over the years, as our children always do.

I remember the way your face fell the day I looked at you incredulously when you commented that we were best friends, and I let a lifetime of feeling oppressed by you colour my response to your perception of our relationship.

I remember your trying to comfort me following Dad’s death, and my pulling away from you, and suggesting in my grief that I would be just fine and that your attention and comfort would be better received by Mark, your favourite. What an utterly bitchy, mean thing for me to say to someone reaching out to care for me.

I know you understood and forgave more for it. But I also know I had a part in taking some of your shine away that day forever.

Every December 20th for 42 years, the first thing I heard was your not so great voice singing happy birthday to me either in person or over the phone line. That makes me smile and feel so loved and wanted, Mom, and always will.

In the time since 2006, I now have to purchase purses, pillows and my own underwear, which has turned out to be a colossal pain in my ass. I know that makes you laugh, as well, and I am sitting here laughing with you.

It provides me with so much comfort that you and Mark can talk daily now, as you were always so close, but makes me sad that I only have this one day in the sunshine with you.

Sitting in the sunshine here with you now, I see you raise your face up towards the sky and close your eyes, much like you did another time we were sitting together outside towards the end of your life.

I watch the worry lines fading from your face, and suddenly you are once again that sassy, beautiful young girl outside and away from the walls that surrounded you most of your life.

I reach over and take your hand in mine, put a soft kiss on your cheek, and whisper to you that in spite of the many times you doubted it, I always loved you best and realize now that I would not be where or who I am without you as my guide.

XOXO

 

 

 

 

 

 

Risky Business

She moves cautiously when it comes to matters of the heart

and

leaps with wild abandon while in pursuit of life’s significance.

Growing up the way I did, with the family I did, in the house I did my growing up in, I was anything but a risk taker.

I was the quiet child, the well-behaved child, and the family peace-maker.

I was the kid who didn’t step on the cracks or lines, for fear of breaking backs or spines.

Always did what was expected of me and followed the path that was laid out by my parents for me to follow.

Most of my risk taking has involved my career or financial well-being.

Following my accident, I went back to work for a brief period of time, and then when my ex husband sold the house we owned and I got my half of the proceeds, I chose to go back to school, which was pretty risky.

Incredibly risky, in fact.

I was the sole financial provider for my sons, and would be cutting our finances in half. If we could live on half of what we were accustomed to living on, I could pay my tuition, and cover our living expenses for the time it would take me to complete my studies.

I had a budget and would have to stick to it absolutely in order for us to get through it. Knowing not a thing about budgets and how to prepare them, I didn’t know to make sure I had contingency plans in place if there was anything that arose, such as blown transmissions, or increases in the price of gasoline. I don’t think I even had anything set aside for clothing or medications. I just made the decision, after worrying it around and around in my brain, and I jumped.

It was never easy but I still cannot believe how fast it all went by and then I was finished!

We had a few bumps in the road – once they cut my electricity 2 days before I got my monthly student funding, and we used the barbecue and showered during the daylight hours. We all went to the library during the evenings to do our homework and use computers, and I surely didn’t have enough extra food in the fridge those days to worry much about spoiling! Coolers full of ice kept what we had safe.

When I think back to those few days, it almost makes me feel sick, but both my sons have joked about how we are survivors and how I can cook anything on a barbecue, so I am hoping the trauma is at a minimum for them.

Once my schooling was over, I took the first position I found, even though I was far from qualified for it. It meant I had to get up at 3:30 every morning and take a train (of all things!!) to a hospital far, far away from my home, in order to start by 6. I worked in that position and also took another position that I would go to afterward from 4-10 at night.

I did that for 3 months until I felt “safe” again financially. The second position eventually offered me full time work and that led me to yet another position, on the recommendation of nurses I worked with.

I hopped about in that fashion for the next 3 years, steadily increasing my salary and being recommended by doctors and nurses I worked with for better and better positions.

Positions I had no business applying for. Positions meant for folks far, far more intelligent and experienced than I was at that point in time.

I have always been a quick learner, and I watch people and how they do things. It’s how I learn best, and I used that to my full advantage during those years. I took positions that I knew I was capable of doing at some point, but would have to fake it till I made it.

Being risky and taking chances without the fear of failure has allowed me to grow my personal network and to achieve the things that I have during my career.

It was also a great example to show my sons, as they have both taken some gnarly risks career-wise, but have landed well!