Growing Up, and Letting Go.

Thought I would post these today, with permission of course.  Time slips away and these moments are gone before you realize it.  Thank You Baby Girl – for allowing me to save them and share them. You’re beautiful!  May 3, 2014

Stream of Consciousness and Relationships

Greetings All!  I have been away for awhile here, attending to things at Hacienda Del Chaos. (aka My Life) July was insanely busy with amazing social events, including but not limited to 2 weddings and a family reunion. Then I also managed to get sick; which as my British friends might say, took the starch right out of my knickers.  The amount of tired I have been is unmeasurable.  We also have several extended family members who are quite ill at the moment.  Last summer was much worse in terms of stress and  family illness  – but I could certainly do with  less of that this year – and all the years to come. Sadly, I am also sure that will not prove to be the case…..

I have been too busy or worn out to feed my muse lately and she has begun screaming at me so I think it past time to unlock her from the padded cell again,  😉  I do feel better – connected and grounded somehow, when I write or work on my photography.  So this  post is going to be about whatever pops into my head – just so I can get back into the swing of things.    The girls have been busy this summer spending less time at home and giving us a dress rehearsal for the empty nest looming on the horizon.  Not sure I’m liking this, but it definitely serves as a prod for me to develop and nurture my hobbies and interests. Hello!  I will need something to do when they move, right?   I may be entering some photography contests or local exhibitions during fair season this fall – not sure yet.

Back side of the Sunset August 2013

Back side of the Sunset August 2013

So what keeps us going when life gets so busy?  I find myself more and more just moving through my daily routine without much active thought. My goal is getting through the day so I can collapse on my couch or in my bed at the end of it – thankful to have a place to lay my head down.  If I have to guess in a word, I would say the answer is “Relationships”  That connection to others.  And relationships are hard work.  Like gardening, we need to water and feed – develop, maintain, and enhance. Sometimes, we also weed and prune; reassess , re-categorize, or just move on.

Most always, the process of staying connected takes relatively little time –  a shout out text or email; a quick note or phone call;  a sit down dinner, a sofa or pillow conversation is  generally all that’s needed to maintain the status quo.  ‘Whats up with you? Hows it going?’ and then listening. Generally, the person on the receiving end of your communique will be delighted that you thought of them and glad to hear from you. I do try to stay connected to my friends and family regularly.  Most often, this involves a phone call, but texts and emails  work as well.  My immediate family ( The Viking and The Girls – we are all pretty good with the communication dept for the most part) So what happens when things break?  When you send those texts/emails and make phone calls/leave voicemails and hear nothing back for weeks at at time (if ever)? This is especially hurtful if you value that relationship considerably.  Or, you drift so far away from someone you don’t know how to  reconnect – or even if you should?

Let me tell you a true story.  I had a dear friend at one point a few years ago.  A long time friend.  The type of friend you speak with every morning before work, and generally chatted with several other times during the week as well. The kind of friend you were matron of honour for at her wedding. Whose daughter is your goddaughter and who was flower girl at your own wedding. We had our arguments, but patched things up fairly quickly all in all.  Her dad got sick with that long slow journey into darkness (the dreaded A- word) and she moved in with him to take care of him. I had issues with my family, including the death of my father in 2007 as well. She and her husband came to the wake.  Our daily conversations became weekly, then sporadic, then practically non-existent.  I’d periodically think  “I really have to call her and catch up”, but something always came up that needed my attention immediately, and by the time I thought about it again it was well past an acceptable time to pick up the phone. At the time, mornings with a high schooler and a middle schooler were (and probably still are) not conducive to telephone conversations  – so our former pattern was not an option.   Then, I ran into her daughter and granddaughter at the Christmas Tree Lighting at the Town Square a few years back. I asked her how her mom was, and how her grandfather was doing.  She looked at me funny, and then told me Pop had died the previous year.  I was dumbfounded. No one had told me, and I don’t get the paper or read obituaries online.  Of course, karma being what she is , I turn around after mumbling some very embarrassed and extremely belated condolences, and my friend was standing right behind me…. I offered my condolences again, saying I’d no idea he’d passed away. They were accepted quite frostily – and that, as they say,  was that. Can’t say I blame her on that one.  I run into her daughter occasionally and we chat.  I do miss my friend, but I have absolutely no idea how to fix this one – or at this point if it is beyond a fix and I should just continue moving on….  The whole situation saddens me immensely.

In other relationships, for example – the actions of my toxic monster in law; and the sister in law I’ve never met in the 29 years I’ve been with my husband; have made the choice to stay away from them  super easy- breezy.  I guess there’s always at least a few in every family. And conversely – in every family I’m sure there are members we would love to stay in closer touch with – but for whatever reason(s) we are not.   I would be interested to see how you all address these issues, particularly with a view to reestablishing and reaffirming broken connections with valued others. So please feel free to comment, and take my poll!

After the Storm Comes the Sunshine - and the Rainbows

After the Storm Comes the Sunshine – and the Rainbows

Selena’s Peonies

These were Selena Jacques Lahue (my Great- Grandmother)’s peonies.  My Grandpa dug them up and brought them to his front garden when she passed away, and my mother brought them to her backyard when Grandpa left us. Peonies also happen to be my sister Susan’s  favorite flower.  I went over to my Mom’s this morning and together we managed to get these photographs. Mom held up the blooms with a stick since they are so darn top- heavy.  It was great to share this time with her, and listen to a couple of the family stories while I snapped away.  I’m normally not a fan of white flowers per se, but these have a spattering of red to boost the visual interest; kind of like an artist lined the center whorls with crimson.  Nature, gotta love her  -even when she’s off her HRT. 😉IMG_8551 watermarked IMG_8566 watermarked IMG_8570 watermarked IMG_8558 watermarkedI hope you enjoy these!  Thanks for stopping by.

 

Through the Door: 6 Years Gone…

I know I just recently wrote this (a creative writing challenge) and posted it but…. its the date before THE date….  So much time, so VERY VERY missed – every day.  Especially this year, as his youngest granddaughter starts high school, and his oldest granddaughter gets married. You were here for dinner 6 years ago tonight, and I never saw you again.  I miss you and think of you so much,  Daddy! Today, and every day. …… So here it is again

 

I pull in the driveway just as the shadows are starting to lengthen and the afternoon is at its golden magical moment. Its been a long day and my feet are killing me. As I walk up the deck steps to the back door I don’t hear our two dogs barking – which is strange,  because they usually bark when a leaf blows by the window – never mind when they hear footsteps on the trex decking. But no matter – I’m tired. I open the door and take a step into the dim coolness of my kitchen – shedding my sweater as I walk in.

I’m greeted by Miss Nellie – our old greyhound, who lifts her head off the couch and grins at me, tail thumping. For a millisecond I accept this – then I freeze. Nellie’s been at the Rainbow Bridge for close to two years now.  Then I hear his voice behind me –  “What’s for supper, Donna Jean?”   Dad?  Oh, Daddy…. I spin around and RUN, fast as I can,  hugging him tightly. He’s real, and I’m not hallucinating.   “Take it easy kiddo”, he says, “I’m still recuperating. I just got the OK to drive again today.”  That’s when I know.  It’s June 6, 2007.  Its not the date I woke up to this morning – but when I stepped through my back door this afternoon it’s where I ended up.  And I’ve been given a rare gift.  One more last afternoon with my father.

I frantically try and think of any way to keep him at my house for as long as possible, as we chat about the girls and wait for them and my husband, to get home. Its surreal. My brain is telling me this isn’t possible, but oh, my heart…. my heart.  I don’t know how I manage to keep it together; as this great big lump of emotion in the center of my chest tries to work its way up my throat and explode out of me.  But I do keep it together, barely.  Dad doesn’t seem to notice. There’s so much I want to tell him, but can’t.    The crew gets home just as I think  I can’t stand any more and they prove a distraction.  I’m in for another shock – when I left them this morning they were 20 and 14.  Now, they’re 14 and 8. We decide on pizza for dinner and Grandpa is highly encouraged to stay. As usual, the girls have him wrapped around their fingers,  and so he does.  I content myself watching him with them, remembering how much they mean/t to him and how much he loves/loved being their grandfather.

Time slows, I start to almost feel like this is normal – and then it suddenly accelerates as Dad gets ready to leave – he’s heading for an AA meeting – just like he did before. My heart sinks because I know he’s leaving and this is the last time I’ll see him – again. Don’t go Dad. Stay awhile. But the time arrives. I know it, and I know I can’t stop him.  I tell him unequivocally to take it easy – reminding him (as I follow him out to the car this time) that he has to see the surgeon before he goes back to mowing lawns and landscaping. But I know it won’t make any difference.   There really are no do-overs. What was, was. What is, is. And what will be, will be. The timeline is locked in, and on June 7, 2007 he will have a massive heart attack while unloading his lawn mower at a clients house and he will pass away before I can get to the hospital to say goodbye.   “I know,” he says.  “Love you.  Sayonara, Kemosabe.  Keep the Faith.”  “Bye Dad, I love you too!” And with that, he leaves – just like before.

As I turn and walk back up the driveway the light shifts back to golden for an instant.  I hear the dogs barking inside the house. I go back through the door again, back to my future. I smile through the tears I can now let loose –  because I got my chance to say goodbye, after all.

…And Whiskers on Kittens….

IMG_8391 watermarkedIMG_8383 watermarkedIMG_8403 watermarkedThese are a few of my Favorite Things….

I got absolutely drenched getting these shots, but what FUN!  I hope you all like the photographs as much as I liked the process of taking them.

The Head Table

Head Table Place Settings

Head Table Place Settings (Photo credit: VancityAllie)

Remember when you were a kid, and you couldn’t wait to sit at the grown up table on holidays?  No more mismatched chairs, paper plates and plastic cups at the rickety old card table. No sirree bub – you got the formal dining room and the good china at the adults table.  You were where it was happening. Definitely a mini rite-of-passage, at least for this chick.  As the oldest child and oldest grandchild I got to go first. Woo Hoo! Welcome to the Party, Pal!

But I want to talk about a different table.  The Head Table.  I don’t mean where Bride and Groom sit during their reception, or where the Silver and Gold Anniversary Couples get to sit. Those are cool places to be.   The happy place – center of attention and hub of the party wheel.  I want to talk about the table you get move up to – and sit at – when your parents pass away.  Its not an actual table, but its a real thing nonetheless.  And its emotional, and scary.  If all goes as hoped, you’re bound for the cemetery next. Not that anyone hopes to die, but if The Fates are kind, they take you before your children.

When you step up to take your seat at the table (if those Fates have once again smiled upon you) you’re usually middle aged – and usually with children and grandchildren by that point.  Sitting down, you get to take stock of your life to date.  You evaluate your goals, reevaluate them and maybe even change career direction. Or divorce. Or remarry. Have a full blown nuclear mid life crisis. Make a menopausally fueled Hit List. Or none of those things. But –  underlying whatever is going on is the stark reality that there’s no human buffer zone between you and the Great Beyond anymore. No safety net below you as you stand on the platform at the ceiling of the Center Ring.  Tag. You’re it.

I was chatting with my Aunt Jean the other day.  She lives near Chicago, but we try to connect with one another as much as possible. She was 17 when I was born, and she’s my Godmother.  We were discussing careers and work. She mentioned that at my age- I’m at the apex career wise.  If I’ve reached for the brass ring already – great. If not, I’d better do it soon. She didn’t say so, but I thought –  I’m approaching the Head Table, dammit.   I haven’t sat down yet because my Mom is still with us; but  I’m halfway up there as of 2007 when my Dad left us terribly, suddenly. Two of my best friends in the world – Cheryl and Martha – have a seat saved for me. Cheryl’s been sitting up there since 1999.  Martha, since last year.

I’ll be in great company, but I’m really not ready to move up to the Head Table yet. Those Fates though, they don’t deign to ask whether or not you’re ready to sit up there. And if I had to guess, I would say that NO ONE is ever ready for a seat at this particular table.  The view is probably lovely up there – friends, family etc. The love, palpable. But it seems a lonely place, regardless of the company you’re in. And, taking your seat up there acknowledges that you are, in point of fact, now an orphan.

So, as I meander towards my new assigned seating (which I FERVENTLY hope I will not have to sit in for a few years yet) I find myself asking the questions:  Am I happy? What makes me happy? Do I matter? Selfish questions, but at my age I’ve paid enough dues in life to ask such selfish questions. I also ask unselfish ones:  Have I made a difference to someone, helped someone, been a good parent?  (Don’t ask my girls that until I’ve had a chance to bribe them) Hahaha! ;). And finally: What do I want to do with the next 30+ years of my life?  I’ve certainly discovered a passion for writing and photography in the last year or so. I would like to build on that if I can.

What questions will you be asking yourself as you approach The Head Table? Or, what are you thinking about as you sit there?  Inquiring Minds…. etc.

Through the Door: Weekly Writing Challenge

I pull in the driveway just as the shadows are starting to lengthen and the afternoon is at its golden magical moment. Its been a long day and my feet are killing me. As I walk up the deck steps to the back door I don’t hear our two dogs barking – which is strange,  because they usually bark when a leaf blows by the window – never mind when they hear footsteps on the trex decking. But no matter – I’m tired. I open the door and take a step into the dim coolness of my kitchen – shedding my sweater as I walk in.

I’m greeted by Miss Nellie – our old greyhound, who lifts her head off the couch and grins at me, tail thumping. For a millisecond I accept this – then I freeze. Nellie’s been at the Rainbow Bridge for close to two years now.  Then I hear his voice behind me –  “What’s for supper, Donna Jean?”   Dad?  Oh, Daddy…. I spin around and RUN, fast as I can,  hugging him tightly. He’s real, and I’m not hallucinating.   “Take it easy kiddo”, he says, “I’m still recuperating. I just got the OK to drive again today.”  That’s when I know.  It’s June 6, 2007.  Its not the date I woke up to this morning – but when I stepped through my back door this afternoon it’s where I ended up.  And I’ve been given a rare gift.  One more last afternoon with my father.

I frantically try and think of any way to keep him at my house for as long as possible, as we chat about the girls and wait for them and my husband, to get home. Its surreal. My brain is telling me this isn’t possible, but oh, my heart…. my heart.  I don’t know how I manage to keep it together; as this great big lump of emotion in the center of my chest tries to work its way up my throat and explode out of me.  But I do keep it together, barely.  Dad doesn’t seem to notice. There’s so much I want to tell him, but can’t.    The crew gets home just as I think  I can’t stand any more and they prove a distraction.  I’m in for another shock – when I left them this morning they were 20 and 14.  Now, they’re 14 and 8. We decide on pizza for dinner and Grandpa is highly encouraged to stay. As usual, the girls have him wrapped around their fingers,  and so he does.  I content myself watching him with them, remembering how much they mean/t to him and how much he loves/loved being their grandfather.

Time slows, I start to almost feel like this is normal – and then it suddenly accelerates as Dad gets ready to leave – he’s heading for an AA meeting – just like he did before. My heart sinks because I know he’s leaving and this is the last time I’ll see him – again. Don’t go Dad. Stay awhile. But the time arrives. I know it, and I know I can’t stop him.  I tell him unequivocally to take it easy – reminding him (as I follow him out to the car this time) that he has to see the surgeon before he goes back to mowing lawns and landscaping. But I know it won’t make any difference.   There really are no do-overs. What was, was. What is, is. And what will be, will be. The timeline is locked in, and on June 7, 2007 he will have a massive heart attack while unloading his lawn mower at a clients house and he will pass away before I can get to the hospital to say goodbye.   “I know,” he says.  “Love you.  Sayonara, Kemosabe.  Keep the Faith.”  “Bye Dad, I love you too!” And with that, he leaves – just like before.

As I turn and walk back up the driveway the light shifts back to golden for an instant.  I hear the dogs barking inside the house. I go back through the door again, back to my future. I smile through the tears I can now let loose –  because I got my chance to say goodbye, after all.