Reflection

Reflection

Friday, January 23, 2015

Tender Heart

Definition:  Heart

1) A hollow muscular organ that pumps the blood through the circulatory system by rhythmic contraction and dilation.  

2)  The center of the total personality, especially with reference to intuition, feeling or emotion. 

3) The center of emotion, especially as contrasted to the head as the center of the intellect.  

4)  Capacity for sympathy or generosity; compassion, Love, affection


Grief's veil is falling over me once again.  I remember this feeling as it visited me not too long ago, not long enough to vanish or to forget as I would wish.  I feel it falling like the lightest of snow flakes on a darkened day, up to my ankles, up to my shins, up to my knees....I want to walk away but I can't.  I stand in the darkened daylight and look up as the flakes keep falling, softly and silently.

My father by marriage passed away just after Christmas.  He fell in November, broke the femur bone and required surgery.  I knew that at his age, 91, this was not good.  He was a tough old bird having already in his golden years had knee replacement surgery, and two heart valve replacements.  This fall was the undoing.  Rehab care seemed like he might get better but the decline came sudden and quick.

Grieving hurts.  My whole body hurts.  My heart hurts, more so for his grown children, his wife and my sister by marriage's children who spent so much time with their grandparents when they were young while their mom worked.  It must have felt like it was their second home.

Grief has no guidebook to help your journey along.  It takes you to places unexpected emotionally where as a comparison to survival you grasp your way out or where you think out is.  Grief can be selfish without intending to be.  Words said burn both to the one who strikes out and to the one the words are given.  Lack of words may do the same.  Some of us walk along without much dwelling of sad lingering thoughts and some of us slog through with uncertainty or questioning.  There is no right or wrong really as long as there is love.

It's the hurting that takes too much time, and I am still wondering where one grieving life became another grieving life as with regards to my mom and now my father by marriage.  My mother by marriage will not be going back home as she has been in assisted care for several years.  The home that was built by him and my husband and brother by marriage, shall be sold.   Saying goodbye to a home that many happy memories as well as sad memories happened in is a death in it's own way.  I know this all to well when the emptying of my parents home was done and that was a year ago.  A mere year ago.  A blip in a lifetime but a mark on my journey in life forever tattooed in remembrance on my heart.

While we heal from the loss of parents the rippling effect transpires to every member of the family. How was our individual relationship with our parents, our brother(s), our sister(s) and so forth?  This fully envelops our healing and grieving.  When my mom passed away and when my brother's family came for the memorial, we had time to be together, to share old times, and to walk through closets, drawers, and rooms.  Each of us felt awkward going through the personal spaces we had never gone.  Doing so was a bonding experience for me.  I hope it was for the rest of the family.  It certainly made it easier to decide what we each would bring back to our homes.

*Photography by Megan

It is never easy to say goodbye.  I know it gets better but really all we do is put our mother and father in a place we can reach out to from time to time, and hopefully the ache goes.  I don't really know if it does.  I'm still on that journey.  Losing my father by marriage, observing and being present for my Love, wondering how the rest of the family was doing, understanding and excepting that peace came for this ailing frail man, moving forward, is a daily wake up call of living.  How do I wish to live my days?

*Photography by Megan

What I do know is the bond between my Love and I is strong.  With each other we can journey through this unknown place.

My deepest wish is that my Love's family's journey stay strong, stay loving and forgiving, deepen, and to be patient with each other.  To be understanding of each ones grief, just as every snow flake that falls is unique and different.

Our hearts are tender...





Saturday, December 6, 2014

Seeds of Uncertainty


un·cer·tain·ty

Uncertainty: The lack of certainty. A state of having limited knowledge where it is impossible to exactly describe the existing state, a future outcome, or more than one possible outcome.


I could say that all is well, that I'm brimming over with happy thoughts while preparing for the holidays.  I could say that but in honesty I would be fibbing.  For any of us who has faced loss of family, friends and pets, I won't even say of recent days, as any one of us can draw in a sharp breath when remembering that loved one regardless of the passage of time. 

Seems that a trigger started up for me.  Father-by-marriage broke his hip in November and while his surgery mended his hip it has worsened his mental capabilities which was bordering dementia.  Now he is considerably frailer physically and mentally.  Listening to my Love and his siblings having to make decisions of what to do brought up the anguish of the years my mom became unable to care for herself.  That ugly fear of not wanting to watch a parent fade who it seems just yesterday was out having a life of independence.  The letting go, of knowing that you can't stop time, you can't go in reverse, you can only be there fully, and do the best you can for them.  Some days will seem like you didn't help at all and other days you will feel like perhaps it is enough.  


My middle daughter's beloved kitty has entered into his next phase, dying.  He became ill but is not responding to new medication and all the loving attention given him.   He has always been the fun kitty.  Unusually looking (he is a Devon Rex), very playful, annoying, inquisitive, smart, and a kitty who stole our hearts from the first time we saw him.  Watching my daughter tend to him is just as heartbreaking as watching him fade.  She sleeps next to him at night, helping him when he tries to use the litter box, giving him fluids needed subcutaneously, dispensing his medications.  She carries him in a kitty bed out to be with us all in the kitchen.  Last night she was knitting, the kitty bed in her lap, Agador bundled up with a ball of yarn next to him.  Such a sight.  Him not attacking the yarn but instead watching her and dozing every so often.  Most unkitty like.  For those of us with pets, we can well remember as an adult getting our first pet.  We didn't have to ask our parents permission and the joy of raising the little bundle of energy taught us a lot about life, including the aging and then the passing to death that happens.  





I know that this is my personal discombobulation.  Most of the time I can talk and allow myself the extra TLC to move forward.  


It's hard to feel joy when the heart is heavy.  Some people seem to be able to do this with ease but there are those like me who under the smile feel blue.  


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

Agador passed away last night.....tears fell as we bid him goodbye.  Peace is with him.....


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Mass Transit ~ Life as one travels




10:30 PM
 
Our flight has landed and we are heading home.  Rather than pay long term parking at the airport we opt to take mass transit to and from.  Gliding down the escalator with suitcases in tow, we see the Bart train at the station.  We don't know if this is the train we should get on and we hope it stays till we can stand on firm ground.  I see a flash of a woman with a rolling carry-on bag boarding, then I see the door close, her arm and bag outside the door.  For the brief moment my mind assumes the door should open, that it would sense an obstruction, but no the arm and bag are caught.  Then her arm disappears and all that is there is the bag.  Magically the door opens and she is able to pull the bag in and we have time to find out where this train will go.

I'm drowsy with the subtle movement on the train, strange however, since it is a noisy ride with screeches, squeaking and other sounds that leave you to wonder if it is normal for the train to sound like this.  I hear a male voice near me and glance up.  There is a lady who has been sitting next to us since we got on being very calm while a man hovers over her talking.  They weren't together as he has come on after our third stop.  She is attractive with dark complexion and long, straight, dark hair, mid to late 30's, with her tablet in her lap and a large tote bag on the floor.  The man is wearing cream colored slacks, a white lizard skin belt, white shoes and a pumpkin colored turtleneck shirt.  He is maybe in his early 40's and African American with a neatly trimmed mustache.  He is speaking softly with a monotone voice and it is slightly hard for me to understand him with the noise of the train.  What I do hear is his flattery towards the woman.  "You are very beautiful", "You are lovely", "I haven't seen a woman like you" and so forth.  For every flattery sentence she calmly says "Thank you" just as monotone as his voice.  I'm not sure what to think.  Is she being harassed?  She seems quite calm through all the interaction.  "I would like you to go out with me" he says.  I don't hear her say anything.  "Sometime then we should go out".  Still nothing.  He walks away.  She sits as she has without response to my eye contact.  I close my eyes and drowse off once again.

As we get closer to the city center of San Francisco more people get on.  Young people in their late teens to twenties mostly.  A group are sitting and standing nearer the other exit, laughing and talking.  Two African American girls pass through our car chatting up a storm and checking out who is in our car before moving to the next car.  Both wear khaki colored pants with two orange, stiff, narrow ribbons hanging out their back right pockets.  One has the most lovely ringlets of strawberry blonde dyed hair that goes down the middle of her back.  Within five minutes they pass through again.  I wonder what the ribbons are from.

A young woman four rows back wearing earphones plays music so loud it is as though she has no earphones on.  She will regret this when she is old and can't hear anymore.

We're almost to our stop and I text our house-sitter who will come and take us home.  I look up and see a young muslim woman wearing a hijab.  She sits down next to another young woman with long light brown hair.  They look very similar in age yet such contrast.  The light brown haired women is relaxed while the young women in the hijab is stressed.  As she sits down she clearly has asked to borrow the other woman's cell phone.  I see that she has come with a backpack that is full, heaping even, with a folded up blanket at the top.  She also has a small rolling suitcase.  She is talking on the cell phone and her face seems so pained in expression.  She looks near tears and it breaks my heart to see this in such a public place with no one with her.  The light brown haired women sits quietly and I wonder her thoughts.  The young woman with hijab passes the phone back and her face reads such turmoil.  You can see her mind is overwhelmed.  Our stop comes and we depart along with the light brown haired women.  I wonder where the young woman with the hijab is going.  I hope all will be well.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Grace


My step-grandmother Grace was a strange one.  I didn't know how to place her in my family at age five. We didn't see her often as she lived in another town not nearby.  At home I had my Nan whom lived with us.  All warmth and love.  Grace, well she was a bit stand-offish as well as having a brooding way about her.

One visit she came with a cassette player and while I can't remember how it came to be of me listening to her talk on the tape she played, it had a lasting impact in my memory.  She was convinced that she had been reincarnated as well as being involved in channeling her previous lives.  I must have been near 10 years of age by this time and listening to the cassette of whom she had been had me terribly confused.  I wasn't brought up to believe in reincarnation but I'm pretty sure this was the first time this concept had been tossed at me.  Grace seemed a bit self-centered without regards to how her words and thoughts might have an effect on a child.  

What did I think?  What did my parents think?  It seemed like they were all polite in listening to her speak of this and to listen to the cassette, but they didn't react either.  More politeness.  I'm sure my Nan was holed up in her room crocheting or some other handwork. I don't think they hit it off those too and this surely didn't bond them.  

For me it opened up a kettle of worms in my brain.  It confused me as then I wondered if I too had lived before.  What other time might I have come from?  I began having vivid nightmares of people dying, especially of my Nan dying.  I would wake up and sit outside my parents bedroom door, rocking myself quietly.  Why I didn't knock to be let in or why I didn't go to my Nan's room I don't know but perhaps leaving my room, listening to the quiet of the house knowing they were in their beds and alive settled me enough to climb back in my bed with a light on and fall back to sleep.  

By the time I was near fourteen I was fascinated with the idea of reincarnation and how that would mean to me, that I would not die but return in some other form.  Certainly far from my Presbyterian church upbringing.  I was still having the death nightmares occasionally and slept with my radio on to go to sleep,  often leaving my light on at night after a disturbing dream.  Death, such a mystery, that I felt I needed some explanation to settle me into knowing my loved ones would be okay and not in some creepy, spooky, graveyard.  The thought that they and I could come back and somehow channel ones memory into the future life, well, that sounded more comforting to me than the line that I would go to hell if I didn't read the bible everyday or if I didn't follow the Christian rules.  

My parents divorced shortly after and I never saw Grace or my step-father again.  If the idea of reincarnation was a comfort to her, I hope she found what she was seeking.  

Monday, October 6, 2014

The Scarf

           I've been cleaning computer files, updating, moving items around and found this in my "document" files.  A story I wrote for my dearest niece upon her 40th Birthday.  I'm so glad I found it and could share this....she is one very special young woman.  

                             


 She gazed out to the farthest point to sea as the sun began its slow descent towards the horizon.  She was middle in the cup of the bay, with the craggy steep cliffs to her left and right.  Her eyes closed softly and her ears opened to the laughter below on the beach.  She thought she might have heard her sons voices amidst those of the other children playing on the beach or in the gentle methodical waves. 

   She listened intently upon the waves that almost mimicked her heart at that moment.  The pause as a wave gathers offshore. That quiet, yet momentous moment before it spills over and rushes to the shore.  She sees in her mind as the sea devours the sand and lashes out to bare toes, then feet, then ankles, then calves and knows the little scream one makes because of the chill the water brings.  A smile forms and she opens her eyes. 

     Her scarf flutters over her eyes shielding the view that she wants to see of what she was thinking.  She wants to see what she hears of the children.  Was she not a carefree child not more than it takes for a wave to melt a sand castle?  She pulls back the scarf the color of indigo blue and sand.  It was as light and wispy as a lazy kite in the sky. 

     She inhales and the acrid smell of seaweed lying on the beach hits her nose.  The smell brings up memories of dragging large seaweed ropes along the sand.  Or the time when they all pretended it was a large slithering snake and how her children jumped away as she ran after them with the bulbous end that might “bite” them.  She laughs slightly to herself of those times.  This is a place of joy, a place of memory making.

     The sun slips down closer to the sea almost to the point where it will be ablaze in shades of red, orange and yellow.  She knows that her family will want her there with them as the sunset begins and hits the surface then dissolves into the deep blue sea.  It was voted upon to stay at the beach till the first star twinkled in the sky.  What that really meant was till the sky was filled with stars.  They would all lie on the big quilt looking upward to count the stars and find the constellations.  Times like this made magic because of her husband.  Stories would abound as he talked.  She knew he would reach for her to cuddle close and she would listen as the boys discovered the Milky Way. 

     She begins the walk down the rocky cliff trail careful not to slip.  Her scarf is wild in the breeze that blows up to the cliffs from the beach.  She wraps it once then twice and finishes it by making a soft over under slip as though she was tying her shoelaces.  She recites to herself as she sinks her toes in the cooling sand that squishes and squashes beneath her.


i carry your heart with me (i carry it in
my heart) i am never without it (anywhere
i go you go, my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing, my darling)
 i fear no fate (for you are my fate, my sweet) i want
no world (for beautiful you are my world, my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart)



(Poem i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart)

               by E. E. Cummings) 

Saturday, October 4, 2014

And so it goes......

My dining room is beginning to reappear.  It's been missing for the past nine months.  Removing the last personal effects from my mom's home, stuffing it wherever I could find a table, under beds, closets, and sadly even the floors when there were no other options, just getting it out of her home and closing the door forever.  Bit by bit I'm reclaiming my home and the dust that lies beneath all those boxes and table tops.  Dear daughter's bedroom....that will take some time to deal with.

What does one do with a framed honorary degree when my mom didn't go to the college but was generous in giving to the school?  I can't even begin to say how many plaques I threw out.  What would I do with them?!  If I deemed it worthy of saving for some historical family pass down, then I saved it.  Clearly my parents were movers and shakers in their social time, yet to hold on to these framed, engraved, and even a statue, I had to draw the line.  I'm proud of all the honors bestowed upon them, I just can't have it become needing of it's own trophy room.  

With months going by and my wandering in the room occasionally, I have had the chance to think about whether to keep the tall, single, glass, candle holder.  Today I decided to let it go.  It is lovely but doesn't go in our home.  Still it has taken me nine months to make the decision.  I wish I had kept the decorative asian brasier I sold because I didn't know where to put it in our home.  She would put orchids in it but wouldn't it have been entertaining to have used it the way it was meant to?  No I kept the stupid tall glass candle holder.  Those rapid fire decisions we had to make when her home sold with a 30 day closing still haunt me every once in awhile.  Then I sweep the thoughts away knowing they were just material items without any family heirloom title of how they came to be in her home.  



With Thanksgiving mere months away,  I'm determined to get the dining room emptied and cleaned.  Polish the silver that has been slowly turning blue-grey.  That will take some serious time to bring back to a sparkling clean.  Speaking of silver, what does one do with unwanted silver?  I have too many large trays.  I mean LARGE!  Who buys this stuff anymore?  Who uses this if they have it?!  The silver will be the next project of what I will keep and what will be sold.  Then E. will have her room back.  I laugh about this as I still label my children's rooms even though they don't live here.  I should say, we will have a guest room back that one won't trip over the multitude of boxes under the bed and around the room.  The closet will be another project if I don't forget what is in there.  I sort of have.....

I thought I should check the boxes on one side of the bed and low and behold I found a box full to the brim with table linens.  I thought I had absorbed it all with my linens.  Clearly not.  I put the lid back on and pushed the box under the bed.  It can wait.  I brought two more  boxes, filled with wine goblets, that I placed side by side with the other boxes with the last available space.  My conclusion being that wine glasses always seem to break and I can just replace as needed with these.  

The Asian clock is keeping me busy.  It doesn't like to stop.  If it stops and I rewind it, it gets goofy by being off by 15 minutes.  Even without fiddling with the pendulum.   I correct the hands, making sure the hour chime is right, only moving the minute hand, and it still will be off.  It takes me multiple times of correcting and finally changing the pendulum to have it working perfectly.  I had no idea it would be so fussy.  No matter, I do have a fondness for it and the quirkiness of it is probably why.  A couple of weeks ago the hour hand had come loose and was just swinging if touched instead of being firmly attached to the small square piece that it and the minute hand are attached to.  I sort of panicked, fearing I might break it if I pushed it back on.  I let it sit a day and then decided that I'm in charge of this clock and I will fix it.  I can do this!  Carefully I pushed it slowing and tentatively back in place.  It held!    Bless my mom's housekeeper for keeping that clocking working all the years it was in her home. 

And so it goes on this beautiful Indian summer day.  Trying to empty out a room and resting off and on to hopefully get rid of a lingering virus.  



Wednesday, October 1, 2014

To Dance Amongst Words

I'm trying to find the magic time to write when my mind is open and the house is quiet.  One would think with only two in the house that it is quiet.  It just seems that I have been doing the humdrum home care as well as enjoying the time while my middle daughter E. was visiting us.  One's children fly home and that is the time to savor with them.  My time will come.....

I've been reading blogs of others I've neglected.  I use to be able to read them with my morning coffee and then the past year swept that time and my heart away.  Sort of like listening to the radio in the car and singing with gusto.  I'm still enjoying the quiet of sitting in the car.  I find this odd but I'm going with it.  It's sort of comforting to drive along hearing the subtle sounds my car makes which isn't a lot as it is a hybrid.   I still sing at times, but I'm getting annoyed with the radio stations when they start playing the same songs that I hear a bit too much of.  Yes,  I could bring the iPod.

What thoughts transpire these days.....

I am amazed with the fact that my son is so far away.  Yes, I of course!  He is in college!  It's just such an odd feeling, me the mother of four,  the last one gone and I am just swirling this around and around in my head of how this affects me. 

I wonder if he misses us.

Does he think about us?

What does he miss most of all?

When I left home I was ready and packed as soon as I had a place to go.  But I had a Dr. Jeckll and Mr. Hyde mom that on one hand could be loving and dear and then be all over me over absolutely nothing.  So yes, I was ready to get out of the house.  I choose to go to a nearby college and since my Papa was a Developer and his business was also managing apartments that they owned, I moved into one of his apartments when I graduated from high school.  Quite the big step and we picked out furniture for the apartment from a recent closing of Model Homes that his company had built.  One special piece of furniture did not come from there.  My Love, my boyfriend all those years ago, had made me a lovely round oak table with claw feet.  

I knew nothing of cooking.  Thank goodness for my Love and his mom who had us over for dinner many a night.  That and the many afternoons I would go to her house, have tea and have the best woman to woman talks.  I cooked strange combinations of food.  Certainly not balanced.  My parents would take me out as well from time to time.  I had a lot to learn of being on my own.

My Love and I had a love nest.  It was wonderful to be with him in the evening, sort of like I imagined married life might be.  I would do my homework and he would be reading in bed.  Then I would turn out the lights and snuggle with him, night after night after night.....

My time away from home is far different than my son and that is fine by me.  

The writing....I want to dance with my thoughts!  Like having a waltz playing and my fingers and thoughts are like a dancer's feet, they tap and are ready.  Who will take my hand?  Out on the floor I will step and be caught up in the motion that will sweep me along.


Like the song "To Be Surprised", that I will be....whatever flows will flow.

Very soon we will be back East, exactly where we were two years ago to the date of our daughter K. and her hubby B.'s wedding!



I'm looking forward to walking in the field they were married in.  To see the changing colors just as we did and let my mind fill with the sweet memories of that whole wedding trip. 

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