Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Time and Memories move in two directions




"Time moves in one direction, memory moves in another." -William Gibson

Some of my earliest memories are flashes of the late 60's and muted colors- greens, reds, a friendly Irish setter, snow (lots of snow),  a lighthouse, and a friend who wore an eye patch.

Pretty random, but all of those memories have one thing in common - my Mom.  She was the one that built a snow igloo in Boston and giggled with us as we froze, took us to the lighthouse and romped with us on the Massachusetts shoreline after exploring Plymouth and the MayFlower.  She was not afraid to be silly, take us on adventures, chew us out, or make things fun.  She worked hard to make sure we knew how to do chores, do our best in school, be responsible for our decision and actions, and learn about Jesus.  She taught me how to fly kites, fish, hunt for pheasants (yes, with a gun), make things that we couldn't afford, save for what we wanted or needed, and know that we were loved.

In 2009, we began seeing changes in Mom and eventually, she was diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease.  On October 20, 2016, my Mom changed her residence from earth to Heaven, and is forever free from the horrible disease that robbed her in so many ways.

Mom would have been so horrified to know how the Alzheimer's had left her.  I know that's why she tried to hide it so long from us.  She learned early in life to be independent, and I feel she knew something wasn't right. She knew things were changing.  She would have mourned
Momma and Sister

Missing her grandchildren getting married, and having babies of their own.
  • Not being close to Sister and the closeness they shared. 
  • Not being in her own home, church, and with her friends
  • Taking care of "her birds" and helping others like she did. 

In the midst of all this, I knew I was losing the Mom I always had, but I didn't want others to think less of Mom or forget who she was.  I didn't want the Alzheimer's to define her or us.  It was just a final speed bump and challenge that she would experience and endure. There are a few things I am thankful for during these last few years:

  • For the first time, we spent an incredible amount of time together that we normally would not have had.  It wasn't easy, but we did have some laughter, many tears, challenges, and memories.  It was a strange, but rare gift I am so thankful for.  
  • Momma would not remember all the hurts, frustrations, anxiety, the health issues it presented, nor how it made her behave.  
  • It brought our family closer through the challenges and gave us experiences that helped us to empathize with others walking through this journey. 



Our family has been "fortunate" that we have not experienced grief and loss, but we knew that it was coming.  With Mom, I grieved with each visit and memory that would pop up, and with her disease, there is a dual grieving time and I didn't quite understand that completely, but I live it almost daily.  

It's in the still of the night, when all other distractions of the day, are quiet, that the only thing moving is my brain.  It's then that the memories and pictures start playing in technicolor, and somehow, my brain starts adding to those memories. It doesn't matter how tightly I close my eyes or try to think of nothing, they rush at me like waves on the beach, constant, inching closer and closer, till I'm left with a restlessness that is resolved only by filling the void with quiet nighttime distractions.

I wanted to share with you what I shared with family and friends at Mom's celebration service following her death. It is about things I learned from Mom, but I wish I had added one more paragraph - what I learned from Mom about Faith and God, but my brain was attempting to put a whole life into five minutes, and I just couldn't do it. Mom would not have liked all the attention and people talking about what a great person she was.  But we did. We tried to honor Mom during her service, so Elvis, Alan Jackson, and Cat Stevens "came" to sing, and at Mom's graveside service we shot off fireworks.  Yep!  Right there in the cemetery we lit her favorite "One Bad Mother" and the 100 Missile shots. I think she would have been delighted, but she would have made sure we picked up every bit of trash because that's how she was.
Mom taught me a lot of lessons growing up.  They weren’t through lectures or even those switches I had to cut from the tree out back, but they were through daily life.  riding a bike down a dusty gravel road, learning to balance without holding on to the handle bars while clapping and singing about Peter and John healing a lame man.
“If you fall off, you get back on and don’t give up.”  This is what my mom told my 8-year-old self when my new birthday gift, a palomino, decided to bolt and I didn’t have my feet in the stirrups. When she finally caught up with us 5 blocks later, I was shaking and couldn’t wait to get off that horse… But she wouldn’t let me and made me ride that horse, with corrected stirrups, all the way home.  We later had the best memories riding our horses in the country.  She didn’t once tell me I couldn’t break or train my colt, but encouraged me to work every day, sharing what she knew from growing up on the farm, showing and checking to make sure I wasn’t missing any important steps.
Don’t quit… Mom never let me quit anything, just because it was hard or I lost interest. The first day of college was always the hardest for me, and exactly three times, I called her from the payphone, begging her to come get me and let me come back home.  She would drive over two hours to the college, help me settle in and then drive all the way back home.

Be frugal and Creative – She had many interest - wood working, crafting, taking care of wildlife birds, and taking care of others. We didn’t have a lot of money growing up, but from the time I was a baby, mom created clothing for me until the time I married.  Side-by-side, she taught me to read patterns, make short cuts, and pattern alteration. Hands on learning at it’s best!  When I was growing up, she created the cutest and fun birthday cakes that looked so professional. This only frustrated me when I attempted to do the same for my children and they ended up looking like something a child would do.

Plan and know!!!  She was a planner… She would research anything she wanted to purchase, pros and cons, or plan to do.   That is something I inherited from her.  She always knew the day of the month of the year that she would pay off any bill or save for what she needed.  Sometimes I think that may have been a curse she tossed my direction.   As the sign changer for TCC, she prided herself at not using the same saying more than once.
Life is an adventure – Have fun and laugh!   We used to play tons of games growing up, and whether it was Candy Land, Gin Rummy, or Yahtzee, she never went easy on me and let me win.  A win against her was earned!  When my brother graduated from college, she drove to Joplin to stay with me so we could go to his graduation.  The night before the ceremony, she decided she wanted to TeePee and fork his yard. It was a ton of fun to sneak over there and decorate, but a little instruction on holding on to the end of the roll when you throw it was needed.  She loved being silly, holidays with the family and making a big deal of accomplishments, small or large, but she didn’t like the focus to be on herself.
 Grandkids – She was an awesome grandma and loved seeing them when she could, creating memories and traditions as she went.  We didn’t always see eye-to-eye on how she wanted to spoil them, but she loved them like crazy.  From creating giant bubble solutions, teaching them to drive stick-shift, holding tea-parties, shooting off works, chase fire-flies, sticking a coffee packet on her nose to get the kids to laugh, listening to them play their musical instruments together, or always having waffles with homemade blueberry syrup when we stay with her.  

I would also like to share what my sweet cousin and friend, Raine, wrote,  because she shared her heart and memories from a different perspective.
Many family gatherings were spent at Aunt Betty’s.  As a young child, I was always excited to go to Niotaze to spend time with my many cousins, Aunt’s, Uncle’s and Grandparents.    Since Aunt Betty lived right across the road from my Grandparents, it was always a bonus because I would get to see Aunt Betty, Lynnet and Bryan every time I would visit my Grandparents.   After my Grandparents passed, Aunt Betty’s house became the place for all the family gatherings.    At Easter, the cousins would gather to hunt Easter eggs in her yard; a tradition that continued with the birth of her grandchildren and great nieces and nephews.    A yard that was always neatly manicured, adorned with beautiful Japanese Maple trees around her patio to the peach trees and grapevines growing on the east of her property and a large garden to the south.   
4th of July was always spent at Aunt Betty’s – A family tradition that my children always looked forward to attending.   It seemed each year, the fireworks show be better than the year before.   Because 4th of July was her favorite holiday, she saved money just to go shopping at Jakes in Coffeyville with her sister Jerre, my Mom,  carrying the list of which fireworks were her favorite -  A list that was created from the previous year.   You see, there was a rule we had to follow.  Us kids gradually learned the requirements it took to be able to light ANY of the fireworks with Aunt Betty’s satisfaction and for people that knew the rules, we would secretly laugh at the ones that broke the rules or were unaware of the rules.   1.) You first had to announce the name of the firework you were getting ready to light.   2) You also had to make sure she heard the name of the item that was going to be lit.  3.) You then had to make sure she had time to write it down.     THEN she would way ‘OK!  I’m ready!”    Afterwards, she would give the item a rating as to whether it was worthy of being part of next year’s fireworks show!    New comers to the gatherings, such as friends, or impatient and anxious teenagers that wanted to hurry and shoot off some fireworks, were often scolded for not announcing what was being lit and sometimes had to retrieve the already shot item and try to read the name of firework.   Words like “Wow!”  “Alright!” and even “That was a dud!  I’m marking that off the list!”  were the comments she would make! Aunt Betty was serious about her fireworks and we all were thankful to be able to share this love with her.   A love which resulted in creating memories with three generations of family.
When I was 12, I was in the hospital because I broke my leg and Aunt Betty came to sit with me.  The following year, I had my tonsils removed and because of some complications, I didn’t go home right away and again, Aunt Betty came to sit with me.  At one of the visits she cheerfully stated “I brought you something from home that is much softer than anything you have here!”  I look over to see her pulling a roll of toilet paper out of her bag!  She always had a way of making me laugh!   Always a caring heart.   
At Thanksgiving she always made her famous pumpkin pies adorned with a crust leaf in the center and a cranberry dish that was always in the same white stemmed milk glass bowl.    She always remembered our birthdays, sending a card in the mail, being there for my children’s first birthday, graduations and wedding.    Aunt Betty was a stranger to no one, always being fascinated or interested with the people around her and making them comfortable.   She worked hard for everything she had, took pride in her children and grandchildren and loved life being in the outdoors.   She will be greatly missed by many and I can imagine that when she saw Heaven the first time, she said her famous word “WOW!” 

Lynnet


“Grief is like the ocean; it comes on waves ebbing and flowing. Sometimes the water is calm, and sometimes it is overwhelming. All we can do is learn to swim.” Vicki Harrison

Friday, March 17, 2017

Here a chick, there a memory

I have a confession.  I love going to Tractor Supply or farm supply stores.  I love the smell of the leather, the salt blocks, livestock food...  

I know it goes back to my childhood of having critters around.  The smell of the hay, which occupied half of the barn, permeated every nook and cranny, often housed small gray mice and rats, which scampering one could hear upon creaking open the heavy wood door.   I have memories of standing as still as possible, in the middle of the barn, waiting with baited breath, to see if I could spot of the  critters, stomping on the wood floor to send them to their hiding places again.  It was like a game, but in reality, they weren't really that scared of us.  A large hay hook enabled one to pull a bale from the tower of hay, sectioning off a few squares of hay to fluff for that day's winter feeding.  Plunging the huge metal scoop into the 50 lb bag of horse food.  The pellets spilling about as the horses crowded close to snatch the first bite before the plinking of the falling pellets hit the wood trough.  Their velvety soft noses exploring coat pockets for special apple or carrot treats if you didn't act fast enough.  Tromping to the north end of the pasture, water from the cistern was pumped into the white chipped and dilapidated claw-footed tub that served as a water trough. the horses scattered droplets of cold well water with their noses, shaking their heads before plunging their noses under and blowing bubbles.  

Hefting the 40 lb bag of grain-free lamb dog food in the basket, I glanced towards the back of the store, drawn by the glow of heat lamps in the middle of the aisle.  I was instantly propelled back to my childhood, as I glanced into the huge galvanized feed troughs, from which chirping, fluffy balls of yellow huddled beneath the warming lamps.  If it weren't for the locked enclosure keeping people from handling them, I would have been in the middle of them. 

Growing up, we didn't have a farm implement store close and ordered our baby chicks through the mail. The second you walked into the doors of the post office, the much anticipated peeping of the chicks filled your ears...  Looking back, it was such a wonderful time building memories.  I actually have felt sorry for my own children, that they did not experience the same chores and memories that Honey and I have growing up in more rural settings.


Tuesday, February 28, 2017

A new Sparkle


Our Engagement
I'll always remember that day, Friday, October 13, 1989. We drove to the city park, in the city where we had attended college, and in the fading of the day, as the city settled down to sleep, he asked me to be his wife. I remember looking at that ring on my finger, so many times in the hours and days that followed. It wasn't the biggest ring, the most sparkly, or expensive, but what made it so incredibly perfect, was Honey picked it out. At the time, Honey made a statement that, someday, he would replace that "small" ring for something bigger and better, but I told him I didn't want that. He felt bad that it was all he could afford on his limited salary at his new job, but, to me, it was the most beautiful ring ever.
Day of the accident
So long dead Explorer
I've worn that ring for 26 years now, until that fateful Christmas Eve in 2015, when it was damaged in an accident that totaled our worn out Explorer. The only injury I sustained was to my hand, and I didn't realize until weeks afterward, and the swelling went down, when I tried to put my ring on, that it was in such horrible shape, and the diamond was missing. I was so incredibly heartbroken.
So I left it off for a whole year and I missed it. I thought about wearing it on a necklace, but instead wore my mom's simple diamond ring when I went out in public. This last November, Honey said he was tired of me not wearing a ring, and he had been saving up for a new one. Off to Zales, with my original ring we went, hoping for good news on getting it repaired. We were shocked to hear it was go my to cost over $1,300 to repair all the prongs, strengthen the bands, replace the diamonds, and make it new. "Looks like its time for a new ring," he said.
Old ring and new
 The representatives/saleslady was so incredibly thoughtful and patient to walk us through this. She listened to me babble and occasionally cry, heard my comments, and presented me with a narrowed choice of three rings, that I might really like. It was really fun, a tad nerve wracking, to really figure out what my ring style was. Blessings: I was a tad nervous to think about paying for this new one, but when she said it was part of the collection on sale, then she gave us an additional small discount, but the part that tore at my heart was when she said "You can apply the value of your old set towards the new ring, but you'll have to turn it in." I just bawled at the thought of letting my ring go. We knew our kids wouldn't want it, but I was so emotionally attached to it. Eventually I handed it over to her, cried some more, as she kept handing me tissues.
This was my first time to ever pick out a ring, but I must say I love my new ring. I think it is me and it's so sparkly and I feel married again. It's amazing how that ring in my finger, or the lack of it, affected me. I was sitting at a stop light once, and the sparkle and zing of the light hitting it distracted me. The cars behind me had to honk to pull me out of it. Boy was I embarrassed! 
  

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Between the lines of Faith

It's been a very long time since I've attended Sunday School.  You would think that after attending the same church for over 26 years, that I would be steadfast in this, but it's been a struggle.

Honey and I  used to teach K-1st grade together before we had kids, and it was just a joy!  The way the kids think and how they think is pretty hilarious at times and oh so refreshing.  Some of the first kids we taught are now 30 and have families of their own.  

Then I took some time off when we began our own family...  Okay, so I took a long time off, but Honey loves the little ones, and he has been teaching the same class each Sunday, for longer than we can remember. They love their Mr. D! He is easy going, goofy at times, and doesn't mind the noise, and is just lovable. But me? After being with our kids 24/7, and watching other people's children, working in the public schools, etc, I was worn and frankly, I had little tolerance for outright disobedience/disrespect that I saw in some of the kids. I know, it begins with the parents, but that is another time and discussion. 

Each Sunday for I've tried different ones through the years and each semester they do change.  Some are WAY too deep and philosophical and I was constantly lost and dread attending, some I struggled to relate to the direction or style of teaching, some had those who liked to debate and made me want to run away, and others left me wishing I'd slept in. One, I particularly really gleaned a ton from, was from a pilot who has spent time in the middle east.  He has the most wonderful insight to customs, the people, and when he puts it in correlation to the Bible, it really just becomes so clear.  One of the lessons that stuck with me was on the simple lesson on Zaccheus, a tax collector.  How totally bad it was for a middle Eastern man, to climb a tree, run, or or just be in the presence of Jews (because he was a crooked and wealthy tax collector).  Another was the lesson he presented on the Parable of the Prodigal Son - again, how the actions of the son, who would have been really dead to his family,  and brought much shame and disgrace to them, but Jesus used the story to show the most disgusting and shameful things, could and would be forgiven and how the wreckless/abandoned love of a Dad brought forgiveness and rejoicing.   

This morning, I decided to give Sunday School a try again.  Fruit of the Spirit lead by our lead pastor's wife.  I knew that she was real, focused, and had a passion for sharing.  I must say, this class is EXACTLY what I've been looking for all these years!  While the focus is about the Fruit of the Spirit, it is about each of our broken stories, how we cry out so many times to God, and without Him, we truly cannot do it on our own.   Then she shared her story, her struggles, and fears and I knew, this was the class I could not miss. This was not just a class, but it is about relational and personal.  She said we all have stories, a background, experiences, some are broken, some are healing...  Today she related and spoke simply about Faith...  


Faith - it is trust and it is intellectual
1. strong or unshakable belief in something, esp without proof or evidence2.  belief and trust in and loyalty to God (2) :  belief in the Traditional doctrines of a religion
Faith is:
  1. An attribute of God - Psalms 146:5  How blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, Whose hope is in the Lord his God,
  2. A positive characteristic of men -
  3. A characteristic that men lack -
     Romans 1:31

    Luke 8:25   And He said to them, “Where is your faith?” They were fearful and amazed, saying to one another, “Who then is this, that He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey Him?”

  4. A  characteristic of the Holy Spirit -
    2 Corinthians 5:7     We live by faith, not by sight.
    Hebrews 11:39-40    These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, 40 since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.
If we don't have faith, we cannot do make it on our own. We cannot be victorious.  

John 10:10  10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

I know I didn't take the best notes, but frankly, I was struggling to just breathe.  My heart was still, listening...  I've been thinking of the words she spoke all day, and I know...  For me, it's about lack of trust, self worth, forgiveness, purpose, childhood parental inflected scars and memories, search for approval, belonging, trust (yeah, there it is again), and let's not talk about fears yet (beside canned biscuits and balloons)...  

Saturday, September 3, 2016

I Felt the Earth Move Under my Feet

I'd been up for a few hours, with only three hours of sleep.  Brain just won't quit sometimes and it kept playing a Francesca Battistelli song, Write Your Story.  Finally gave up at 5:30 and decided to work on emails, bills, and stuff.  I was sitting at the computer at 7 a.m., suddenly the computer screen swayed, my chair moved and I felt dizzy.  I must have been drinking too much tea too early in the morning!!!  I looked around for the dog, thinking she had laid against my chair and moved it, but she was looking at me from across the room,  like I was kinda crazy.  I think I was...
Earthquake felt in seven states - CNN 

Getting on facebook, I quickly discovered that what I had felt was a 5.6  5.8 (updated a few days after the quake) magnitude earthquake centered in Pawnee, OK and felt in SEVEN states!!!

I've got to stop blaming the dog for everything!!!   What a way to start Labor Day weekend!  I will be very happy with some kind of normal for the weekend!


Thursday, August 25, 2016

Mr C goes to college

Hard to believe, but Youngest started college this week. He resisted greatly having his picture taken, but I played the "mom" card and won out.  You only have one "very first day of college" in your college career.  
Tuesday evening, after he finished his second day of calculus (what 17 yr old takes a class like that his first semester?!)  and he was bouncing off the wall with excitement.  He tried to explain how awesome it was, but the words math and awesome do not belong in the same sentence in my world. This is the kid who solves a Rubics cube, in close to a minute, and says it's simple because it's just an algorithm... Who is this kid???  He tried to explain how fun and challenging it was to solve the problem below, but my mind couldn't fathom any of it.