Thursday, January 5, 2017

Listen up...you may learn something...


This blog and others I write I write quickly with rarely any thought to proper grammar or spelling.  These are "off the cuff" no holding back...They are what they are...

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In the past I've written blogs concerning things I see on a daily basis.  Sometimes they're funny and I try to convey that in the blog.  At other times they may be observations of how I understand things.  This is one of those, not gloom and doom but reality of things that you may not understand or never have to deal with in your life. 

I've been a student of psychology and sociology.  My specialty was in the field of "Aging, death and dying".  I read all the literature I could get my hands on about the psychological process of grief.  How it affects the brain, how the physiology of the body reacts to stress, how seemingly simple tasks are overwhelming to the grief stricken.  Yeah, right.  Let me clue you in to the reality of this stuff from my new perspective.  I feel as though I'm doing a PSA (public service announcement) to all the uninitiated.  No kidding.

First of all, the books that are written about grief give you a glossed over version of what the person writing about the grief thinks.  That person usually has some notion of the workings of grief but they can't know what you or anyone else is going through.  They can surmise things but that's about all. 

Grief is a personal journey.  It's sure not easy and it's not something you can tell someone about.  Yes, you can give them the generalizations that everyone thinks about but not the nitty gritty.  Some grieve sincerely forever, never leaving the initial grief stage.  Some seem to bounce back shoving the grief into some dark recesses of their mind, hoping to bury it so deep as to never find it again (doesn't work by the way- it will get you in other ways-trust me on that).

I've been going to therapy, listening to the stories of others.  I thought at first, "What in God's name am I going to get out of this.  I've studied all this stuff ad nausea".  I know the theory.  I know what to expect. I understand what's happening to me.  I know what the next step is and I'll get through it ....no sweat.

Was I too cavalier about grief? You bet.  Was I holding myself above the others thinking I knew more than they did? Of course.  Was I sure that I knew best? Yes, I did.  

The one thing that made me laugh (to myself) was when my daughter realized that I was a basket case and she was shocked to see her, "bad ass Mother (her words)" vulnerable.  That made me start thinking about other folks who have parents who they think are "bad ass", "tough", "capable" "with it", etc. 

Grief has a way of taking over your life.  You are dealing so hard with the grief you can't seem to focus on anything else.  You see things that have to be done but you don't give a rats ass about any of them.  Not because you're thinking about the one you've lost but you're trying to keep breathing, in and out ( and trust me that may be the only thing you accomplish of some days).  It's not depression, it's a sort of depression.  Granted, some may go into full fledged clinical depression but from where I sit it's not what I'm seeing.  I've seen the full fledged clinical depression, experienced even and I'm hear to tell you this is different.  I think there should be a different word used when "depression" is a result of a death of a loved one.  I don't know, maybe, "soul longing? unknown fear dwelling", something other than "depression".

Most people have no idea how tough it is to go through the day not knowing what that day will bring.   Will I break down in the super market because I see something my  kid loved as an adult, a kid?  Will I look at Gatorade differently because that was his drink of choice.  Will I see someone who doesn't know my son is dead and they ask, "So how is the family these days?'.  Then when you tell them they look as though a shutter has dropped over their eyes and they flounder to say something "profound".  (the best thing to say is, "I don't know what to say"...it covers it all.   The worst thing to say is, " OMG How did it happen?" that's usually their immediate thought. Then if they're really stunned they say, "Well, he's in a better place...".  No, he isn't, he should be here with his family and us...  The worst is when someone says, "OMG, I don't know how you're handling this, I'd kill myself". Yep, that's been said.  I know it's not meant to be cruel but it is. 

Most of us want to talk about our loved one.  We love to hear the stories of them and things they did that we may or may not of heard about before, it's kind of nice.  So don't be afraid to give us reminders of past things it keeps the memories alive and in some way the loved one as well. 

Well, that's it for me... I can write for a time but then I can become overwhelmed, as I am right now. 

This has been your PSA understand?



Thursday, December 29, 2016

2016 Be gone damn you.....

We are quickly approaching the end of a lousy year. Not just lousy for me but for multitudes of folks this has been a year with no comparison.  We've seen things happen this year that we've never seen, nor ever thought would happen. 

Our personal loss was horrific, something no parents should have to endure.  However, parents all over the world endure the pain of the losses of their children.  We all hope it won't happen to us, but for some of us, it does.

Our difficulties are continuing.  We don't ever know when we will break down.  We are aging rapidly.  The loss of our child hit us violently.  It's hit us at our most vulnerable. It's not held back.  It keeps jabbing at us and kicking us when we're down.
We seek counsel and hear the other folks talk about their emotions and how they handle things that are hitting them from stem to stern.  These folks may have a loss similar to ours but how they handle their own emotions, I can never understand, because I am not them, nor them me.  Yes, we understand the feelings of loss and we can sympathize but we can't know what their daily life is like without that loved one. We can barely understand our own daily life without our own loved one.

It seems that every week, no make that almost every day, there has been another celebrity or prominent person lost.  No matter who it might be it makes our loss more tangible.  We could have been in a good spot for a minute or two then we're hit between the eyes with something else tragic.  It puts us into another tailspin.

So I guess what I'm trying to say is: be nice to everyone because you don't have a clue what they are dealing with on a minute to minute basis.   They can show a facade of happiness and be dying in the inside.  They can look fabulous, even enviable, but be riddled with disease you can't imagine. 

 The losses to the universe as a whole are not all known to us yet. We'll see what happens over this next year. Things may not be as bad as we think they're going to be, but then again, there's no guarantee of that either.  I guess it's "one day at a time" to the rescue again for all of us.

For us 2017 can't come soon enough... 





Tuesday, November 29, 2016

The Search



The Search


I have always believed that persons who leave their vessels (bodies) manage to be in many places at many times.  When they first leave, their spirit hangs around to make sure everyone left behind is doing OK.  As the time goes by the spirit makes the transition for the living easier by enabling the loved ones to remember times that were once only a fleeting memory in a subconscious.  These long buried memories help the living to remember and move the forgotten memories into the forefront of the minds of the living.   It seems, at first, to be counterproductive for the living, but in reality it’s cocooning the living in a warmth only to be given by the one they’ve lost. 

As the time goes on, the living, with the cocoon of remembrances, feel the warmth and laughter they thought they’d never feel or hear again.  That’s when healing starts…It’s a slow process, but a needed process.  The spirit is always near at this time, waiting to see what to do to help the living adjust.  When the spirit feels the time is right, it lifts itself to a higher plain, still watching and listening, but allowing the living to get on with their life making sure the living is still cocooned in the memories and remembrances of the loved one they can no longer feel.  The spirit then allows the remembrances and memories to become lodged in the heart of the living and no longer in the subconscious of the brain.  

When the living puts their hand over their heart they can feel the essence of the loved one they lost and a calming will come over the living, telling them that “it’s alright, I’m still here and I’ll never be gone as long as you remember me”.
                                    
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The time had come for the long trip.   The trip to find himself.  The trip to understand the why’s and what’s of his life.  He needed to go.  His yearning for answers could no longer be held in check.  He loved the ones left behind, but his pursuit of his truth was more than he could bear.

His car was packed, his survival gear categorized He was ready for the journey.  Mapping out his route he started on his quest.  It would be long, and arduous, but it was his time to complete this trip of a lifetime.

His pain was intense, both physical and psychological, but he was ready.  His friends and family tried to stop this seemingly disastrous journey stating it should not be done alone, it wasn’t the right time to be making this pilgrimage, and there were things to do at home and not the time to be going away.   None of that mattered to him.  He was on a mission to accomplish something that few would attempt.   He was a broken man physically.  A man who had always been the strongest, the most thoughtful and wise of his cadre.  This brokenness bothered him, it put him into a depression of sorts that could only be assuaged by doing the undoable.  He was driven.

His thoughts were to camp in remote places where he could commune with all he loved, the trees, the soil, the land the fresh air, the waters, the nights and days, alone, with only his own thoughts and prayer.

His love for God and his need to show God he was a man of faith, further lent fuel to the desire to make this journey. He was in God’s country, the unknown to him.  He was going to make sure he was one with the elements and come out a better person.

That was not to be…maybe.

Those left behind were worried when he didn’t contact them, but they knew he was on a silent quest and it wasn’t the first time he had followed his heart to seek out the answers to the questions in his mind.  He needed the time to think and “get back on track”.  They weren’t aware that he was “ on track” just not the one they felt he should be on.

Time went by, still on contact. What to do? Where to look?  Should we look? Would we be intruding on a personal quest? We sat and wondered if we were doing the right thing.  Should we have taken things into our own hands and stopped this journey? I said, “No, this is a personal journey we should not interfere.  Let him have this time but let’s give ourselves a date to start another phase”. Our decision was to “Let go, Let God”, hand it to a higher power knowing we were really unable to control anything at this point and to keep swirling around in a whirlpool of worry was not helping any of us… We gave it up.  We sat back and waited for a higher power to take over to lead us to our next step. It wasn’t easy to sit back and let the chips fall where they would, but it was the only thing and the right thing to do.

We would wait just 12 hours when the phone call came from a Detective in Iowa.   He told us his car was found in a semi remote area, but they didn’t find him.   A trail camera was installed to see if there would be any activity in the next few days.   It was obvious to the Detective that he had been camping on private property, a farmers land far into an area the farmer didn’t plant.  His car was in the open.  The farmer saw it and watched for a few days before calling it in to the authorities.  The farmer was worried about the person who was camping since he hadn’t seen anyone near the car.  He wasn’t angry at the person camping, he just thought someone should check on him.

The trail camera saw no activity after three days, so the searches were started in earnest.  We had to make missing persons reports in order for more intense searches could be made.   There were helicopters, dogs, volunteers, people we didn’t know nor maybe never would know looking in earnest for signs of him.  Two of his friends flew in to the area to help with the searches knowing they were more knowledgeable about him than the multitudes of strangers who had taken up the job of trying to find an unknown person. 

Rocks were turned over, camps were checked for signs of him, stored boats were flipped over, posters and flyers made and were given to everyone they encountered.  Some had seen him days before walking and riding his bicycle. Some had spoken to him and thought him to be a “really nice guy”.  He had been all around, but now was gone.

The river was high, higher than usual.  The rains had swelled the river to rise above its normal height.  The search was now on the banks of the swollen, raging river.   Signs of him were there: his water purifying kit, a boot print, and water bottles.  Where was he?  Did he fall into the river?  The search extended down the river slopes to the edges of the raging river.

On the other side of one area was an old quarry, still, dark, deep and cold, oh so cold.   The search and rescue changed to a search and recovery.  There are certain protocols that are adhered to in any kind of searches. 

The Detective overseeing this search was more than helpful in helping his two friends searching for him. He was a compassionate and caring man who was willing to give leeway to these two friends, he had never seen before this time in his life.  He felt the pain the friends were in and knew their friend was someone who was loved.  He let the friends do what they needed to do and didn’t try to stop them, just guide them.

The two friends along with the Detective came up with a scenario which could explain what had happened.  There was no proof other than what experience had taught the Detective and armed with the only physical evidence they found it was probably, not completely, but probable, accurate.

They found a boot print near the river and the water supplies.  There was a slide mark close by.  The edges of the river were steep and muddy.  He slid into the raging river was the thought.  It fit.  The river claimed even the strongest at times and swept bodies down towards the great Mississippi, we may never again see him.  That was the thought, but they didn’t give up the search…The friends had to return to their lives and the search would go on. 

We waited, and waited.  Worry over came any other thoughts in our minds.  We wondered how we could go on not knowing where he was.   How could we ever get closure?  I knew he was gone to another dimension.  I could feel him around me, but I’d never hug him again. I’d never feel his soft lips giving me a kiss before he left my house.  I’d never again hear him utter the words, “love you Mom”.  But that was OK, I knew he was no longer in pain.  He was no longer searching. He was no longer alone.  He was where he needed to be, not where we wanted him to be. 

Time marched on. In retrospect, it wasn’t really that long.  So much happened during that time that he wasn’t part of at all.   It seemed as though he was hovering nearby but unable to get to us, or us to him.

One of the friends went back again to see if anything else had been discovered.  The Detective went to the airport to collect the friend.  They had become friends during the search and rescue/recovery.  He was still an integral part of the case.  The Detective gave the friend all the information from the forensic team to read, so the friend would realize the extent of the ongoing investigation.   It was an extensive report.  They hadn’t just made it into a “cold case”. They were actively still looking and waiting for information to turn up.   The farmer was more than generous to the friend and the Detective stating he wanted the car to stay where it was, no need to impound and tow, let it stay, just in case he came back to get it.    These were people none of us knew.  People who lived in a state far from out home, Iowa. 
They were the salt of the Earth types.  We didn’t know them but they were instant friends.

Finally, in the night, the phone rang. It was the Detective.  A body had surfaced in the quarry.  There wasn’t an official identification but there was a probable one.   He had a tattoo on his left arm.  A tattoo of a Scottish Rampant Lion.  I remember being furious that he wanted a tattoo.   He came home, said, “Mom, I got a tattoo”.  I was angry as he was pulling up his sleeve and I saw it was the Scottish Lion….My birthplace’s standard of strength…He had outmaneuvered me again.

That tattoo identified him as my son, my baby, my boy.  A new chapter in our lives would now begin.

To be continued…



Friday, September 9, 2016

Time to write...

Well, I see it's been a very long time since I sat down and wrote anything at all on this site.   This past year has been a trial, to say the least, but I'm not going to write about that at all. Enough has been said to the folks that needed to hear it, I don't need to tell the world.

It seems to me that so many of my contemporaries are afraid to speak up and ask questions about things they should know about.  I don't understand all the secrecy.  OK, some of the stuff is hard to talk about, but most of the things are universal difficulties we all have at one time or another.   I try to understand where they are coming from and it's all about that "NUMBER"....their age.  They don't want to think about aging and what age brings to most of us, so, if they ignore it until it can no longer be ignored they're thrilled. You know, out of sight out of mind?

I don't believe it that. I get more information (and some odd looks at times) when I blurt out questions.  I don't really care what others think, I want some answers.  You can only look at WEB MD so many times and then you find out you're old and it's part of aging or some other such rot.  I want true answers, not Internet answers, which may, or may not be correct.  Who knows? Certainly not me.


Oh well, I'll keep blurting out questions in the hopes that someone will shut me up with answers...maybe someday.....oh bother....

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Alzheimer's- the Demon within.....

Another change in my life.  Things don't stay the same, I know that, but I don't have to like it...and I don't.

Lunch with Emily has always been fun, but now there's a new twist and some new activities.  She's now in an assisted living facility....and very nice one, but not her home....She lets me know that almost every minute.

Today was my first experience with her in the assisted facility.  The staff were all very gracious and helpful.  The lunch was very...institutional...but nutritious and plenty.  If you wanted more you could ask for more.  I should be the one staying there...You get enough and you don't get a chance to be greedy or glutinous.....I'd lose weight.   Emily should gain weight because she sure hasn't been gaining weight, nor for that matter, keeping weight on at all lately.

It's sad when you have a loved one in any kind of facility.  Intellectually I know it's the right place for her right now and probably forever, but emotionally I have a feeling of grief... It's as though I've lost part of me. It's not that I'm thinking about my own mortality per se, but  something I always thought of as never changing has indeed changed and can never be put back to rights...

My cousin has been a part of my life since the day I was born.  She is 7 years my elder.  I am an only child and she is as close to a sister to me as I will ever have.  

She is the only person who shared my childhood bedroom.  She lived with me, my Mom and Dad from age 19 until she married and moved out at age 24.  You may not think that's a long time, but it was intensive and felt as though she always lived in our house. 

Time went on and we went our separate ways. Me to college, then my own marriage, Emily to build her home not far from me, but still not in the bed next to mine...We had children...We lived our lives different from one another, but we were still connected by the thread of family connection.  We saw each other sporadically over the years but managed to meet monthly for lunch and catch up on the goings on of each family. 

Our kids knew each other a bit, but they too had their own friends and families.  Still the thread connected all of us like an invisible lasso.  We could pull it together at times, weddings, funerals, graduations, but usually it was loosely held around us.  I thought it was like a safety belt, "just in case" we needed it.

As we've aged things have changed.  We remember the past as though it was yesterday, but Emily doesn't remember yesterday and that is frustrating to her.   Her sentence structure is sometimes non-existent...but that's OK...I can keep track...Her information is scattered all over her brain and it sometime takes hours to get it into the right order for more than just her understanding of what she's trying to say.  I can deal with that as well. 

I can handle things as they are as long as I know there is a safe place for her to be.  The place is safe.  She tries to escape out of every EXIT but the staff is on to her now, so she keeps them hopping..

Alzheimer's disease is a bitch.  There's no other word for it...It's a bitch.  In the case of my cousin, it's the family disease.  Luckily we're pretty sure it's her Mom's family and that will exclude me and mine from that particular strain, but who knows what the future holds for any of us?

My studies had me research the Dementia's and none of them were pretty to see or read about, but the beginnings of Alzheimer's, is a tougher deal...It's an insidious disease, it sort of creeps up on you when you're not looking.  If you have no other people in your family who have preceded you with this disease, you can lose time in getting a good diagnosis, and medication to help slow the progression....There is no cure, but some medications may help slow the spiral down that slippery slope where there's no turning back.

I know I must accept the cruelties of the disease, but I sure as Hell don't have to like that acceptance and I don't .

I'll keep visiting Emily, giving her my love and company and hope she continues to remember me as I remember her and the fun we've had over the last 68 years....

Thursday, May 14, 2015

So all right already...

I've been getting grief from some folks because I am remiss in my blog writing.  So rather than continuing to listen to the queries as to why I've been so quiet, here I am...

Life is funny. I know you've heard and read that a hundred times or more but honest, it really is funny if you really observe your fellow man. 

1.  I watched a man come out of Stewart's convenience store today carrying more than any one person should try to carry at one time.  I watched him thinking, "this is going to end badly".  I was correct.   Every single item he was attempting to carry all at once hit the bricks; coffee, a bag with bread, butter, a jar of "something" and peanut butter hit the ground.  The jar broke and the "something" spilled over his cute little bare toes...He had sandals on but they were not substantial...just some straps of fake leather...The man tried to catch some of the stuff in mid fall, but ended up slamming into the car (I hope it was his) and kind of slid down the side in a heap....I know I shouldn't have laughed and to be honest I tried to hold it in, but I couldn't...

2.  A woman (who should have known better) was walking at a quick pace while looking down at her phone.  She was obviously oblivious to her surroundings as she walked off a curb and fell to her knees...Again, I knew I shouldn't laugh, and this time I didn't.  I ran over to help her and she sort of waved me away never once letting her eyes leave the screen of her phone...Now, come on...

3.  At the gas station, I observed a youngish man (again with the man...) as he filled up his vehicle.  He was paying no attention to anything at all.  I thought he was in some state of meditation or something.  I watched him as he filled the car and when the hose stopped filling (because the tank was filled...duh...) he proceeded to pull the hose out just a little to add more, then a little bit farther up to add more, then the hose was out of the filler and he sprayed the gasoline all over his feet.  First of all, I never thought that could happen with all those safety things on the hoses these days....wrong.  The guy was furious.  I watched and thought, "I hope he's  not a smoker".

So now I've started to blog again. I'm done for tonight....I'm tired......

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Land that time should forget....let them all stay as they are....

Been quite a while since I sat down to write a blog.  I've been doing a bunch of other things and haven't had the opportunity to sit a write for fun...However, tonight I'm sitting at the beach. I'm a bit tired from being in the sun most of the afternoon.  I am not sunburned, thanks be to sunscreen...

We are again in God's waiting room.  The last couple of years we were not quite in this area of Florida.  Last year we were in the middle of the state, near "Mouse Land"...We didn't like it there.  It was a bit fake...No, make that a lot fake.

This year we're back in the waiting room, where everyone here is older than we are, and that's not too bad. I try to find places that are off the beaten track and not so "where the cool kids are".  By that I mean, not in the middle of the hoity-toity groups that are all over the place down here. 

They make all sorts of "fun" things to do: Roaring 20's parties, 60's sock hops, Sci-fi weirdo things, and of course the ever popular, Elvis impersonator dances...  We've hit some of them over the years just to see what's what. 

This year we are in a 1930's Florida cottage (a..k.a. "camp") that has been totally rehabbed and has all the mod-cons that are necessary for life as we know it today.  We have two bedrooms and only one bath (I told you it's like a camp). It is very well appointed with all the stuff needed to do just about anything you may need to do. 

The area is very residential. Most of the other folks around here stay down here for half the year.  As I said before, most of the folks are older than us.  Many have residual effects of pretty devastating illnesses and the like.  It's kind of like looking in a mirror and maybe seeing your future...and I hope I'm wrong, but we all have to go sometime. 

 The air here is warm but the ocean is cold, not cold enough for me to fore go walking in it looking for shark's teeth along with hundreds of other old farts.

The conversations you hear are all the same. It doesn't matter where you hear them, a restaurant, museum, the beach, casually strolling down a street just about everywhere.  First comes the talk about meds., then Docs, on to pooping, either too much or too little.  Honest to God, I'm not kidding.  It seems that everyone is obsessed with their evacuation.  I guess it's because it's a commonality between people of a certain age.

The driving hasn't gotten better down here either.  We have seen some really bad driving and I shudder every time I see a Buick sedan in my rear view mirror. I'm never sure if I should keep my eyes on the front windshield or the rear.  I've gotten whiplash every time I've come down here to the country that waits for God's finger to crook their way.  

I'm not being "snotty" as my husband suggests, I'm only observing from my vantage point.  It's quite amazing to think that all these really old people down here were once young and vibrant.  Granted, some are still quite vibrant for about two hours (usually in the early morning hours-that's when all the garage sales take place) then it's nap time to get ready for "cocktail time"...Every day...day after day...

Oh well, more later.....