Sunday, April 30, 2017

Can't Quite Go There Yet

Today is three months since my dad passed away. Just typing that made me tear up. It's funny how when people ask how old he was and I say 86 I get the impression that they think it's not so sad because he lived a long life. He wanted to live to be 100. But what he really meant by that was just how much he loved living.

I've been surprised by the depth of my sadness.

I want to write what it was like to get in the car at 4 AM and drive for 11 hours trying to make peace within myself that I might not get there before he passed away.

How my younger brother, who I have nothing to do with unless we happen to be home at the same time, came and kissed the top of my head when he walked into the hospital room and saw me holding our dad's hand.

I want to write about what it was like to go see my dad in the hospital an hour after he had died, the warmth of his body fading. How when I made the sign of the cross on his forehead that I was taken off guard by the speaking in tongues that burbled up from within.

How I couldn't bring myself to sit in his easy chair after he passed. How I watched my older brother almost do it and then say, 'nope'.

But I can't quite go there yet.

The months since he died have seen so many health challenges within my own immediate family that it feels like a shit show. I told my kids and their spouses that we've used up 2017's quota of ambulance rides, emergency surgeries and other health crises in the first 2 months and let's be done with that okay?

It really has been one thing after another and those things aren't complete yet.

But my dad. He'd want me to embrace it all. He'd harrumph with a twinkle in his eye and a good deal of compassion and tell me that it was rough for sure. Whatever his aging challenges were he always said that they beat the alternative.

He's come to me in dreams several times. Full of light and vitality.

He kept a globe by his chair and my mom said not a day went by when he didn't put down the book he was reading so he could check on the globe where the story was set or where a particular place mentioned in his book was on the globe.

I have my own globe. I take my 3 year old grandson's hands and point out where we live. I rub his tiny fingers over the surface so he can feel where the mountains are. The other day he went for a drive with his mom and when she pointed out the mountains he said, "Just like on Nana's map."

There is no road map for this season of grief and loss.

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

Snow White

A few weeks ago I was sitting in the chair at my hairdresser's when I noticed an elderly lady, with this lovely head of snow white hair, walk in. As my hair dresser continued to cover up my grey roots with hair dye I told her that I wanted to have a head of hair like that one day. She tactfully told me that I already did under all that hair dye. Who knew?

I noticed my first grey hair when I was 25. I didn't dye my hair until I was well into my 40's. It was totally for reasons of vanity. My husband didn't have a grey hair on his head and was in a job where people continually thought he was in his mid thirties. I didn't want them to think he was married to an older woman never mind the fact that I am younger than he is!

My mom used to say she would stop dying her hair when she became a great grandmother. She was in her early 60's when that happened and that was just too soon for her. She's in her late 70's now and just recently gave up colouring her hair due to health issues. 

I'm not making any promises. I'm very curious to see what my hair looks like underneath all this camouflage. But not curious enough to really see. 

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Healing Waters

Up early this morning and to the swimming pool. Doing so was an act of the will. My body really wanted some extra sleep but I know how fickle I can be. Miss one morning because I don't feel like it has the potential domino effect of a continual I don't feel like it until getting up early becomes a thing of the past.

I've been surprised at how much swimming nourishes me in body, soul and spirit. I've never been big on swimming. No swimming lessons as a kid other than my dad standing in the shallow lake water holding me under my belly, a few instructions, and then letting go to leave me to sink or swim. Eventually I swam.

Last May I purchased a mastectomy swimming prosthesis and a specialized bathing suit to hold it. I started out small. Five minutes in the pool was all I could do. It took 6 months to build up to swimming laps for half an hour. As a plus sized woman I love that I feel no body shame in a bathing suit.

I hope your day goes swimmingly. 

Monday, January 02, 2017

Messy Relationships

My father-in-law has a milestone birthday today. Milestone enough that he most likely doesn't know who I am anymore despite our worlds colliding for the past 35 years.Sometimes I feel guilty that we live less than an hour away from him but don't make much of an effort to see him or my mother-in-law. My parents live 600 miles away and I see them more times in a year than I do Dearest One's parents.

Occasionally I look ahead to my elderly years and wonder if I will befall the same fate. I can't fathom that my children, their spouses or our grandchildren wouldn't visit us. I wonder if that particular karma really will be a bitch. I work at my relationships with all of them. Does that mean I can expect anything in return? No. But I can hope.

We heard about my father in law's milestone birthday celebration being held next weekend through the grapevine. People may be surprised to see us show up as we passed on attending the Christmas get together last week. We've become those unpredictable no show family members we used to talk about in judgmental tones at Dearest One's very large family gatherings.

As I do my own aging I get choosier and choosier about who I spend my time with. Obligation doesn't seem to fuel my action like it did once upon a time. On days like today I can't decide if that's a good or a bad thing.

Sunday, January 01, 2017

Dedicated Space Thanks To St. Lucy

I've thought a lot lately about coming back to blogging. Moving away from social media. I miss writing. This past year I have done next to none of it and I want to change that.

I spent the past few days clearing out my home office. This space of mine has looked, for longer than I care to admit, like a hoarder who loves paper, inhabits it. The problem of a person who likes to stack paper on every surface and deal with it never later.

Dear Sweet Boy was a two year old when he surveyed my office, and proclaimed - 'this place is a disaster.' As I sat down to write this I see his three year old self was in my office this morning and left a gift of Lego on my desk.

We had a young man living with us before Christmas and I found that his early mornings and mine didn't work well for my Centering Prayer practice which I do in my living room. Yesterday I set up my office with a comfy chair and now have a dedicated space I can use no matter how many extra bodies are in our house. We have this young man and another coming to live with us for a while starting tomorrow so that encouraged me to tackle the surfaces covered with paper and make some order out of chaos.

Perhaps I can think of my blog as a dedicated space again as well. As my friend Annie wrote today about missing having a creative community, I do as well. I used to visit all my favourite blogs every morning and now find I check FB instead. Through blogging I felt like I knew people as they often left their real lives on the page.  FB is a sanitized version of myself and my guess is it is for many others, too.

As I tidied up my space I found the cards from two of my friends who had breast cancer before me and who have since passed away. I woke up this morning and thought how blessed I am to see another year. Although my writing practice is rusty I still feel I have a gift in it and I don't want another year to go by with me not doing something to nurture it.

Many moons ago I got myself a saint for the year. I did so again yesterday and got St. Lucy - who, among other things, is a patron saint of writers.

St. Lucy pray for us.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Good, Kind, No

This is a a fitting picture for today. It reads like a soap opera to tell the tale but the short story is that we let an old friend and his new girlfriend stay overnight.  They were moving back to our community from afar. Met online a few months ago. Had been together for the few weeks that it took them to reach our house. At supper that night my spidy senses went berserk.  Too many bits of her story didn't add up.

I ended up telling them after one night they couldn't stay at our house. That was hard to do. I had one of my kids come and change the lock codes on our doors as a precaution. I felt like I was being a bitch. A tape runs in my head that says Christians don't turn anyone away.

A few days later she took off with his car, identification and money without warning. We were out of town and when we got home he called from a homeless shelter where he'd been for several nights. I told Dearest One to go get him. He went to the police. Pressed charges. Cops asked him if he'd learned anything. Said he probably wasn't her first victim. Our friend looked broken and haggard and in need of mercy. (Aren't we all?)We tell him he can stay until he gets on his feet.

Fast forward a week or so. Dearest One sees her with the car and calls the cops. Turns out our friend and her are back together. He wants to see if he still has feelings for her. (insert sound of my head banging on the desk.) He gets his belongings and identification back. The money is gone though. Yesterday she sends desperate plea to Dearest One wanting to stay at our house again because she is sleeping in a car and has no food. We couldn't do it. We couldn't let her back in our house.

And I felt guilty for saying no. "Jesus where are you in her," I asked myself. She says she knows you. I would hate for people to judge me, by my at times awful behaviour, as I did the healing inner work through the years since becoming a Christian. I am a super slow learner. Hindsight is 20/20.

I've been trying to find some compassion. I've only been able to find a smidgen of it. I can't seem to find any mercy. I know people (both of them) only do these things out of desperation. I've done some stupid ass shit in my day. (like the time I went to a stranger's house and he locked the bedroom door by placing a butcher knife high up where I couldn't reach it between the door and its trim. Lots of people don't survive that shit.)

My sponsor yesterday gently said we were not responsible for fixing this woman's situation.

I just needed to hear someone say it.

Lord have mercy because I can't seem to find any.

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

Still Here

I know there are a few people who still come and check to see if I have written anything new. I am still here. Which is in itself, a gift. My cancer diagnosis back in 2012 continues to remind me what a gift it is to be alive.

Health issues are cropping up again but hopefully they won't be serious. Funny how that is. Looking at the prospect of being on oxygen for night doesn't seem like that big of deal compared with the possibility of my cancer coming back.

Two women who were my biggest and most honest support during my breast cancer journey have both passed away from metastatic breast cancer. That is the only kind of breast cancer that kills. Early diagnosis is no guarantee against it, either. I could write much more but suffice to say look at this site for more information on that. I feel I owe it to the women who have died to educate people about this. It could be me one day.

The biggest joy in my life at the moment is my marriage which is a long, unbloggable story of it nearly not being intact just 9 months ago. I give God the glory for the healing and depth of relationship we enjoy today. I don't use the word lightly but it feels like a miracle. One priest I went to for Reconciliation during the wretchedness of it and then later went back to so I could share what happened told me I'd experienced Easter early this year.

That journey taught me that there is no time limit to the healing that can (and in my case, needed to) happen. I waited 35 years for that healing. My spouse waited 35 years for it to happen. He'd already found a place to live when it happened. The healing went so deep that I believe it happened on a cellular level. There is no other explanation for my long held coping mechanisms dissolving, in an instant, like a vapor. "God doing for us what we cannot do for ourselves."

The other huge joy is being a grandma. That is a delight nearly beyond words. Who knew I was capable of such love?

Life is good.