Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful. ~Norman Vincent Peale

As Dad and I enter into this Christmas season we are once again confronted with our ability to successfully deal with our grief over Mom’s passing last May.

We spent Thanksgiving with my sister.  There is strength in numbers.  We lovingly and successfully got through the experience with a great deal of joy and thankfulness.

After Thanksgiving dinner I set out to decorate the cabin.  Nanny’s cabin.  The family always spends Thanksgiving at the cabin.  We have for many years.  I was so afraid it would be too sad, but it wasn’t.  I found a great deal of peace and contentment being in that place that Nanny loved.

I have planned ever since that day to spend this weekend decorating the house in town.  When I went down stairs to get the decorations,  I pulled the decorations out of the closet only to find myself sinking into a devistating mood of not just melancholy, but remorse.

Due to this sense of terminal loss, I feel it necessary to walk through these stages of grief.  I need to make sure that I am doing this right.  I need to make sure that my journey to acceptance and understanding isn’t blocked from my own doing.

Schroeder in tree

denial –  As the reality of loss is hard to face, one of the first reactions to follow the loss is Denial. The person is trying to shut out the reality or magnitude of his/her situation, and begins to develop a false, preferable reality.

I am all too aware of my loss.  Living with Dad has helped me get through this state.

anger – Once in the second stage, the individual recognizes that denial cannot continue. Because of anger, the person is very difficult to care for due to misplaced feelings of rage and envy. The person in question can be angry with himself, or with others, or at a higher power, and especially those who are close to them.

******* This is it!  I am angry!  I am sad!  I am mad at God!  My mothers grandmother lived to be 111 years old.  My grandmother lived to be 99.  I spent my entire life thinking that Mom would live this long too.  How dare God take her away from me before at least 99.  How dare him!

   “I want her back!” 

Of course I am an adult.  I know, I am all too aware that getting her back is impossible.  I guess that is where some of the anger I feel comes from.

Can I do this Christmas thing without her.  I’m not naive enough to think that it will stop.  I know that somehow we will muddle through. And, I believe that if there is a way.  If it is at all possible, Mom will be there with us.  She is with us now!  She never wanted to leave.  There was just nothing that anyone could do to stop it.

bargaining –   The third stage involves the hope that the individual can somehow undo or avoid a cause of grief. Usually, the negotiation for an extended life is made with a higher power in exchange for a reformed lifestyle.

Well, maybe I’m here too.  Can you be in a number of stages all at the same time.  This, I will have to discuss with my therapist.

depression –  “I’m so sad, why bother with anything?”; “I’m going to die soon so what’s the point?”; “I miss my loved one, why go on?”

Ok, well I’m moving into this one too!  That’s it!  I’ll just move through all three of these together.  I won’t have to deal with them one at a time.  I can look forward to a time when I’m ok with all this.

Mom had a life well lived!  She was an exemplary roll model for a whole lot of people.  Her life and mission made others lives and missions more possible.

She had this overwhelming ability to cause all that were with her to feel better.  She brought hope, where there was none.  She caused love and joy where it had not existed before.

And, the most important of all…. she did it very humbly.  Never wanting anything for herself, only for those whose lives she touched.  And, there were many that were touched.

She would not have me suffering, so I will do all in my power to work through all these steps faithfully and wholly.

You see, there was a time in my life when I suffered great devistation.  I chose to deny what I had been through.  I did what the definition fully implies. ” The person is trying to shut out the reality or magnitude of his/her situation, and begins to develop a false, preferable reality.”   This nearly cost me my life, it did cause my loss of happiness and joy.  It cost so many years of my life, that I dare not think about them all.  Mom helped me through all of it and helped me to get to the other side.  I will honor her life and her presence in mine by not allowing that to happen again.

This Christmas!  This time of Christmas that Mom and I loved and cherished will be spent in remembrance of her love, her life and all that she did.  Not just for me but for so many others.

                                            “I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.”

                                                                                Charles DickensFuzzy Christmas!

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What is normal any way?

ducks-in-a-rowIs it normal to have ducks in a row?

( disclaimer – I found this picture of the ducks on the internet.  I am only using it due to relevance.)

I have recently moved back in with my Dad after my Mom passed away in May.  I got here the first of July and it took just about a month to get the stuff I planned on having in the house arranged, getting storage for the rest of my stuff and settling in.

HA!

What is settling in anyway?  Here I am, August 17th and I am just now finishing in on getting all my things in the house.  And, I still have a storage locker full!  Full!

I wanted to try to get a job with the school systems here, since I worked pre-k in Nashville.  No such luck!  I don’t know who you have to know or what you have to know, but it’s un penetrable.  I went to work with special needs children in 2008.  I absolutely love it.  There is no greater satisfaction that anything has ever given me.  I started wondering if I would be able to continue, but felt that maybe it wasn’t in the cards.

Oh well!

Then Dad and I were at the shop where he gets his car fixed because my battery was dead.  Dad parked in a lot right next to the shop while I told the mechanic what it was doing.

When I got out to the car Dad said, “Look!” pointed directly out the window to the business next door to the garage.

I looked out the window and saw a sign for a non profit center that caters to, lets call it children in need. ( special ed)  This center keeps infants to five years old.

In 1984 I gave birth to a little girl born with birth defects.  Her name was Audrey Ann Burnette.  She came into the world with an extra chromosome in the 18th set.  Rendering her incapable of sucking, she had a hole in her heart, cleft palette.  Anyway, bottom line was that she would not live long.  Someone told me that they were surprised she made it into the world at all. At her heaviest she was 5 pounds.

Audrey Ann

This center was where Audrey went during the 3 to 4 weeks we got to have her at home.  These people took care of my Angel.  And, they did an excellent job that I was always enormously grateful for.

I told Dad to drive down their driveway.  He did it without even one hesitation.  I went into the center and asked about a job.  The lady at the front desk was a nurse.  She gave me the card of the lady I needed to contact about a job.

I immediately went home and sent an email to the center with my resume and cover letter attached.  I then went into their website and sent another resume to their job line.

After speaking to several people and sitting down with the lady responsible for hiring parapro’s for their center, three days later I was employed.

Not quite a month home and at the age of 58, I already have a job.  Call it kismet if you like, but I believe that nothing more perfect could have happened.

********************************************

So, now to date… I am for the “most part” moved in.  Although every day I think to myself about something that isn’t here.  I think about 32 years of marriage and raising 2 children and how much stuff you have when you are done.  Mom and Dad had 63 to cram stuff into this house.  The two are having a hard time meeting.

I have met with many of my old friends from high school for dinners, lunches and coffee.  It’s so much fun catching up. Thirty nine years is a lot of catching up to do.

I have successfully finished setting up my “studio” and have now started actually producing some art.  “Yay!”  I really didn’t think my creative juices would start moving again this soon.

And, ” I have a job!”

Don’t get me wrong, I am not stupid enough to believe all the excitement of moving is completely over.  But, I am definitely on my way.

getting started is half the battle

getting started…. Where do I start?

Some of you may already know this, but just in case…. I moved in with my Dad  July 1st after my Mom passed away.

I came back to Georgia after living in Nashville, TN for 27 years.  Leaving behind not only dear, dear friends but also my grown children.  Both of my children consider Nashville their home town even though neither was born there. 

It has taken me 3 1/2 weeks to get my art studio the way I want it.  Well, everything but artwork on the walls.  I’m still waiting to hang stuff. It has been months since my creative juices flowed.  I don’t  remember what month I completed my last piece of art work.  It was probably April, or maybe March.  No, I’m pretty sure it was April.

It is true that I have been in a state of some depression, which always causes problems with creativity.  But, in light of the fact that I have worked diligently to turn my art into a career, I have been concerned that I needed to get down here in this new studio and be creative.  I may not be able to create anything that I feel is sales worthy, but it is important to start creating.

OMG!

My daughter was recently in Chicago and took a photo of the sunrise over the Great Lakes.  I decided this photo would be an excellent one to start with. There wasn’t an enormous amount of articulate detail work, so this would be great.  Ha!  There it sits on my painting table.

 

Then, when I realized that this was not going to be something I wanted to work on at this point, I found the garden apron I made back in the fall.  This apron was humongous.  I thought a family of clowns would fit comfortably into my apron.  Garden apron

See, I told you it was ginormous!

I started altering the seams on the side to make it a better fit.  I worked on it for a couple of days.  Once I felt it was of a more appropriate size, I decided to tie-dye it.  I thought it would make a aesthetically more appealing appearance. my disclaimer… I have tie-dyed before very successfully.

shattered dreams splitting seams

 

OH LOrd!  Look what I did!

ruined!  RUINED!

all that work I put into this apron, and it’s “Ruined!”

( the tie-dye was a complete failure)

UGH!

So, I got this bright idea that I would find something to draw!  Draw, I can do that!  Well, I found another seascape, and I started working on it.  Ugh! barely started

I don’t know how this got so messy, but it did and then I got frustrated. I just really don’t know what I’m gonna do?

I guess I’m gonna go back to my studio tomorrow and I’m going to pick myself up, dust myself off and start all over again!

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3EFPJL1uQbs

 

 

Is life a bowl of cherries?

I woke up this morning with a migraine.  I do this from time to time…..  I took a couple of over the counter head ache pills, drank lots of coffee and the migraine became tolerable.  It’s been raining since last night, so I didn’t do much of anything but goof off all day hoping the headache would go away. It’s midnight and I’ve been unsuccessfully trying to go to sleep  I don’t know if you do this or not, but whenever I can’t sleep I start immediately thinking about the things that have been going on in my life lately.  You know, the things you want to forget, or at least not think about…. but then here I am rewriting all these scenario’s in my head over and over again. About three years ago I divorced my high school sweetheart after 32 years of marriage.  Don’t ask, it’s too much information to dissolve at midnight. Well, just a little, If I want to be honest, I must say that my marriage was not ever what you would consider “Happily ever after”, but we had our great moments.  Happy memories were made.  But toward the end, it was “Hell on Earth!”  Any hoot, after coming home last month and spending a lot of time discussing life with my father I have realized lately that I’m running men off.  Literally running them off!  I don’t seem to be able to stop myself.  I told my father today, that I think I’m just gun shy.  The initial interest is alluring, then if the male starts acting interested, I grow cold.  Like Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde  Hell, they must think I’m off my rocker.  It probably makes them quite confused. After I took one of my prescription strength migrain pills earlier, I ended up having to eat something to keep my stomach from attacking me, so I started eating cherries.  Ranier cherries, are the best in the world.  I’m  sitting there eating one cherry right after the other and I realized something. You know that feeling that you get right about the time your finishing your last bite of that food that you love.  That sense of disappointment that it’s over. It’s that disappointment that I’m trying to avoid. It’s hard to admit, but I’m doing that very thing in my relationships.  I am afraid of the disappointment that “may never come”.  My mind can’t consider a relationship without an unhappy ending. Now, what to do?  I am screwing my life up!  Me, all by myself…..  What is that saying, figuring out what the problem is, is the first step to correcting the problem.  Step 1 is done, now on I go.

Change is constant…

Mom0001You know how it goes….. just about the time you get real use to the way things are…. something changes.

You have to stop and rearrange your thoughts, your attitudes, your visions, dreams, wishes…..  home, possessions.

 In 2010 my Mom was diagnosed with ovarian cancer.  It was a very traumatic experience for us all.  I watched as my Mom courageously accepted her chemo as a way of life.  She held her head high,  smiling and being as lovely as she ever was, and she always was very lovely!  Once the diagnosis of remission occurred we all celebrated.  Every month that she went in to have her status checked, and they reported more remission, we were ecstatic!

These great reports continued for a good long while, then around November Mom started to complain about how bad she felt.  The bad feelings grew and by Christmas she was saying that she knew something bad was happening.  I just thought, that no, it couldn’t be…..  She had been given a clean bill of health…..

There must come a time in one’s life that they admit to themselves that they are too old for fairy tales.  Too old to not understand that life happens, times change.  Well, there should be that time, but it never happens until something else happens first.

After many different doctors visits, and many visits to the emergency room…. Mom & Dad were finally told that Mom had cancer cells in her kidneys.

How could this be?  There was great sadness.

I spent Spring break in Georgia with my parents.  It was obvious that Mom was not feeling well.  She wasn’t eating and I didn’t think Dad was either.  Everyone cried so hard when I left that I felt so guilty  going back to Tennessee, I thought hard about staying with my parents.

I guess I could be more detailed with dates and times, but I just can’t remember and after all in the final analysis, what does it really matter, I mean it happened!  What else matters!

My family in Georgia, me in Tennessee.  I had so many stories, from different people, different angles, different attitudes, hopes and realizations…. I wasn’t truly sure what to think.  I decided I must go home.  But, school would not be over for another month.  So, I told everyone that I would go home on June 1st for a time.  A time to spend with Mom, and help my sister and father.  ( Yes, I thought I had all the time in the world)

I got a call from my Dad the last week of April.  Mom was not benefiting from the chemo that she had taken twice after discovery of the cancer cells.  The doctor was discontinuing any further treatments.  She had been sent home.  The doctor told Dad and my sister that hospice had been called.

“Hospice!” “NO!”  OMG!

Needless to say, I went home to Georgia.  As, immediately as possible.

I got home on April 29th, Mom was sitting in her recliner with a blanket that I had given her from Christmas around her body.  My sister told me before I even left TN that she didn’t even look the same.

I walked over to Mother and knelt by her chair.  The very first thing she said, “Becky, I’m dying.”  I swallowed a sob, and said “I know,  Mom.” ” I Love You, so much!”  She said she loved me too.  I continued to stay with her for a time.  Then I went into the kitchen and made a grocery list and went to the store.  When I went to the end of Mom’s  chair, she said she was glad I was going to the store.  That is the last lucid conversation we had.

My Mom passed away on May 4th.

I guess even as an adult, I still could not accept the inevitability of my parents mortality.  I was the baby, did I mention that?  Mom referred to me to the end as her baby.  Well, when she talked to me she did.

The following Monday I went back to Tennessee.  I went to school the next day, and it wasn’t too hard to see that wasn’t going to work.  I luckily had enough vacation time left to take the last 3 weeks of school off.

At the onset of Mom’s kidney failure the one thing that I had discussed with Mom & Dad was the chance that I could come back to Georgia to be with them permanently.  I had said that I thought that would be a good idea, especially since I didn’t think that Dad was taking care of himself, even though he was taking very good care of Mom. There was just a part of me that never truly thought rationally about Mother dying, just kept telling myself that it would happen later.  After Mom’s passing, Dad asked me when I would come home to be with him.  I packed up and moved as soon as I could.   I don’t think I could live with myself if I didn’t.

As of July 1st, I am back in Georgia with Dad.  I will miss everything I left behind in Tennessee, my kids, my friends.  But, I am glad to be home with Dad.

I am working on setting up my studio downstairs, and as soon as that is done…. well, I’m gonna try to get back in the swing of being creative as creative as possible.  I am in a bit of a slump, but I think just the act of doing will get me back in the spirit to creative expression.

Mom has a plaque hanging in the kitchen.  It says, ” Life is what happens, while you are making other plans.”  It is true, the only constant in life is change.  And, that’s not always good changes.

disclaimer:    I am terribly sorry if there are typo’s or askew’d  grammar malfunctions.  I wrote this mainly as therapy and so I don’t want to have to read this again.  Forgive me!  And Thanks for taking the time to read this.

Becky