Category Archives: dad

It’s been a while …

since my last blog post. 

Since last time, satan has reared his ugly head and life has given me a bonified black eye, busted lip, bruised rib, and all around beating.

My mom, who I depend on way more than a nearly 50-year old (ok, 47 in two weeks, but still) woman should, has been ill.

In the hospital, taken by an ambulance, ill.

My dad, who leans heavily on my mom, has been beside himself.

My dearest friend has been given (by mere mortals) six months to live.

It has been a trying month.

First off, my mom is home, well and feeling quite herself. 

My dad, an Air Force Veteran (whom we should all be applauding today for his service to the USAF) is better because my mom is feeling better.

It brings a surprising revelation to light.

While this would distress and hurt me beyond comprehension, I have this hope they would die, in their sleep, at the same time.

As awful as this may sound to some, I’d rather mourn them both at the same time than try to handle one without the other.

I can’t frankly speak for my sister, but wonder if she wouldn’t agree.

If that isn’t possible, I hope my dad, my hero and advocate goes first, because I cannot fathom him without my mom.

Mom would miss dad terribly, but she’s strong, and would survive.

Maybe I’m more crazy than I imagined, but I can handle Mom’s tears more easily than Dad’s.

I honestly don’t know how I would deal with him if he had to live without her.

As for my dearest friend, who is battling cancer, I advised her, as I do everyone, to live every day as if it’s the very last one.

Nobody, but nobody has the promise to live further than the moment they are in.

I know where I’m going when I’m gone from this world, so dying doesn’t scare me.

Living, however, without the people who love and understand me, gives me pause.

If that sounds selfish, it’s because it is. 

I thought I’d grow old and watch, with my husband I dearly loved, grandchildren playing in the yard.

Then, I came home one day, and out of the clear, blue sky, found him as dead as Moses.

No warning. No goodbye.  Just gone.

There’s no promise of life, to any of us, past the single moment we find ourselves living in.

If one doesn’t intend to live life as it happens, they forfeit their right to complain when it’s over, or nearly over.

You can quote me on that.

Right now, in this moment, is all I am certain of.

It is all any of us can be certain of.

This moment.

This breath.

This heartbeat.

Each day, if it doesn’t mean something, is wasted.

I say this to family, friends, former friends that I miss with an intensity that embarassess me, and though I can’t think of any specifically, my enemies.

I don’t think I have any absolute enemies.  If I do, they’ve been mighty quiet about it, and I forgive them anyway, knocking out the one leg they, were they real, had to stand on.

That’s good, though, in my way of thinking.  Who, when they have life to contend with, need enemies to muddy up the mess further.

And yet, as I often do, digress.

Now is the only thing that matters.

Grab on or be left behind.

Those are, in actuality, the only two choices.

As Shakespeare said (though he may have meant it differently as words in his day were perplexing, they pretty much say the same thing). To be or not to be … that is the question.

I choose to be, even when it hurts, is painful, annoying, hurtful, betraying or joyous.

I choose to give it everything I have, be whatever I can be and love, even those who don’t love me, unconditionally. 

Be it joyous, angry, confused, happy, sad, contemplative or any number of emotionally relevant states, with bright lights, awesome auroras, sleepless nights and flying debris; I’m there, every day, all the way.

I know who I am and if I die before morning, I know where I’ll find myself.

I love you all, even when you’re unloveable, just as you do me.

We, though we are all in the image of God, are, intrinsically human.

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My nieces …

are remarkable.

Each of them brings me unspeakable joy.

Sophie, the oldest, was my first. I watched her being born and captured the first photograph of her.

She became, that photograph did, anyway, a greeting card.

http://www.greetingcarduniverse.com/holiday-cards/nurses-day-cards/general-nurses-day/nurses-day-obstetrics-new-baby-exam-150758?aid=133039

Gracie, known to me as Gracie-Bell, was second. I didn’t witness her birth as she decided to create all kinds of drama.

She, like her older sister, is a drama queen.

Gracie has Down’s Syndrome but lives life as though it will end tomorrow. She’s a character and, as you may have imagined, a greeting card as well.

http://www.greetingcarduniverse.com/holiday-cards/nurses-day-cards/general-nurses-day/happy-nurses-day-child-dancing-803906?aid=133039

Life happens as it happens and as it does, I capture it.

It’s what I do.

My daughter, for instance, was a music education major.  She’s chosen a different path, yet still found herself on a greeting card.

http://www.greetingcarduniverse.com/miss-you-cards/general-miss-you/girl-with-trumpet-music-135567?aid=133039

My dad, an inspiration to me though we often butted heads, is my mentor. Guess what?  Yep, a greeting card.

http://www.greetingcarduniverse.com/dad-father-birthday-cards/general/happy-birthday-dad-farmer-246883?aid=133039

Life happens.

In that life is magnificence.

Live.

Love.

Embrace.

Enjoy.

Time passes, life goes on, memories fade.

Enjoy each moment for there will come a time when nothing, except memories, remain.

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Family. Friends. Creation. Life.

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Nothing matters more.

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Over the weekend …

I had a total bipolar meltdown on my dad.

He was, at first, completely blindsided, and then perplexed.

I usually meltdown on my mom, who knows to just let it ride until the event is over.

But she wasn’t there and I was melting down in real time.

I think it was good for him, my Dad, that is, to see me as I have a propensity to be.

Totally crazy, on the edge of straight-jacket territory.

A mess.

I try to shield him from this side of me, because, well, at the risk of starting a riot, he is my dad and is, with abject certainty, a man.

Men rarely understand the astounding psyche of women.

Don’t roll your eyes and pretend to be insulted.

We know that maneuver.

Add bipolar to the mix and a total discombobulation takes over.

I love my Dad.

He is my, second only to Jesus and third to John Robert (who is dead, by the way), my hero.

A man who’s integrity I would bet my last dime on.

But he isn’t my mom.

He wants desperately to pat me on the head and tell me all is ok.

All is not okay.

I’M HAVING A MELTDOWN, WHERE IS MY MOTHER?

In my own defense, I didn’t say that.

I wanted to, but felt the ramifications would skew the effort to find out WHERE THE HELL my mom was.

So I cried, sobbed, made little sense while blindly clinging to my Dad.

I seriously doubt he will
ever be quite the same.

It’s a bit, I suppose, like trying raw oysters.

It sounds gross, but the rewards … well, they, by spades, outweigh the risks.

I hope, some day, to eat raw oysters with my dad.

A small, and yet ambiguous dream.

He hugged me while I was sobbing incoherently and told me he loved me, no matter what.

Major points for that.

Major.

Points.

Major.

At home ..

I walked in, uninvited, as I always do. 

It never occurred to me to knock on my parents’ door.

It is just, well, home.

When I didn’t catch a glimpse of my mom in the kitchen, I called out Hello? Anybody home?

My voice echoed slightly in the emptiness and it startled me, deep within my heart; in a hidden place I never visit.

I walked, knowing I was alone, from room to room.

The Grandfather clock tolled half past the hour.

For which hour it tolled, I can’t be sure.

I looked out the window toward the pond and mountains.

I could see how much of my mom and dad would be lost.

Gone.

Irrevocably changing everything.

The tick-tick-ticking of a clock became louder and inexplicably, Poe’s “Tell Tale Heart” flashed into my thoughts.

Odd, I thought.

I didn’t doubt that they were fine; yet still I felt a shiver.

The oppressive silence.

The unanswered echoes.

The emptiness.

If they don’t outlive me, I will miss my parents when they are gone.

Have I thought of it before?

Mayhaps.

But it only occurred to me today.

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In the midst of the Polar Vortex …

my heat goes out, or at the very least makes it painfully obvious that it is planning, in the very near future, to take an extended vacation.

No phone, no lights, no motor car; not a single luxury.  (this is completely untrue, but it manifested itself, unbidden, in my head) .

Not good, I suppose, but not the worst thing that could happen.

Not the song in my head, (while the theme from Gilligan’s Island wasn’t my first choice, I suppose it beats Henry the Eighth), but the heat going out.

Keeping up with my brain is a full time job and sometimes, even I want to quit.

Yet, I digress.

I still have power, which means my heated mattress pad works.

I still have hot water so hot showers are there to eradicate the goosebumps.

I have many quilts that Granny (God rest her soul), lovingly made for me.  They are warm, too, hand sewn and have enough love in them to keep me warm even if they were only threads.

I don’t know what is wrong with it.

The heat, not the shower, the quilts or the mattress pad.

It started making a noise that sounded similar to the sound the brakes on my car makes when I stop suddenly.

I suppose I will have to call the man.

I could call my dad and have him call the man, but I am working diligently on being independent, self-sufficient, self-reliant.

Funnily enough, I waited until I was nearly fifty years old to come to this decision.

That is, in part, why I don’t know how to fix my own, among other things,  poorly functioning furnace.

When I learn to fix the furnace, change the oil in my car, replace my brakes and fix the broken tail light that has gotten me pulled over three times this month, I will have made it.

I’m not inept.  I can photograph nature  like nobody’s business.

I can string words together to articulate what I want to say when I want to say it.

I can write poetry that incites tears and sketch peoples’ faces that illicit sighs.

I have plenty of artistic ability, but it is fairly useless when things break.

Oh well, it is what it is and will be what it will be.  At some point, the man will come to fix my furnace and I will once again bask in heat; in the meantime, I’m sitting here with my heavy coat, gloves, ear-muffs and scarf on.

And for each of those things, I am grateful.

One moment, one hour, one day, one month, one event at a time.

That’s how I see life.  A little thing like a crippled furnace is no reason to change that.

It will get fixed when it gets fixed.

It isn’t, by a long shot, the worst thing that could happen.

Staying warm the old-fashioned way and finding it adventurous while I do so.  I am, after all, the adventurous sort.

I simply didn’t expect adventure  to exploit itself in my living room, but being a Sagittarius, I will take it as it comes and make the best of it.

That is what we Jesus loving, faith having, wishful thinking Sagittarius beings do.

A snowy day at the base of Clinch Mountain

A snowy day at the base of Clinch Mountain

A beautiful view of a snowy Clinch Mountain

A beautiful view of a snowy Clinch Mountain

Snow-covered cows as they indulge in hay.  They seem no worse for the wear.  Encouraging.;

Snow-covered cows as they indulge in hay. They seem no worse for the wear. Encouraging.;

It has been so long since I have watched TV …

that I have no earthly idea where the remote to the blasted thing is.  I wouldn’t be looking for it now if it weren’t required to set the menu up for a favored DVD that I was wanting to watch.

I don’t watch the news and have no clue, unless it is on facebook or twitter, what is going on in the world.  My journalist peeps keep me informed on the pressing stuff and the “Oprah, Fox, MSNBC and just happened to be surfing the web  crowd” keeps me informed (and entertained) on the rest of the goings on.

I am perfectly happy with that knowledge (or lack of as the case may be) in my isolated, yet mostly serene, little world.

On the occasions that people I know feel the need to fill me in on the seedier things that are happening, I find myself cringing and saying things like “ewww” … “stop … don’t tell me anything else” … “OMG, you’re not serious?”

It is true.  I am so close to hermit status that if I didn’t have to work for a living, I would be completely and happily oblivious with a backpack in tow and some flint in my pocket …

Thank you Dr. Blackwelder, for teaching me to make a fire with flint and a few dry twigs.

I could, I am relatively certain, live off the land, and thrive on apples, peaches and blackberries … and if that didn’t work out perfectly, I could, irregardless of hunger and thirst, photograph it and then write about it.

I might go hungry, but I would be happy while my belly growled.

I have learned a great deal from my dad, who is like the mountain man extraordinaire, who knows something about everything that has to do with nature and he, kindly, passed it along to me.

I paid attention and took notes.

It isn’t that I don’t care about people and things that are happening.  I do.  But most, in my experience, of what is considered “news” is the misfortune of others exploited well beyond what is necessary.

When my husband was living, I was current on all the happenings.  He was a news junkie and found it oh-so-satisfying to fill me in whether I wanted to know or not.

I see, in the day to day happenings in my life, family and job, plenty of drama.  I don’t need to know who has been in rehab, who is having somebody who isn’t their husband’s baby or what the name of the new Prince will be.

In all honesty, I could care less about that.

If there is a wildfire or other disaster, I find out from my journalist friends on facebook and then, can pray or curse, accordingly, as the event warrants.

There was a time when I was much geekier than was good for me.  Of this, I am certain.  I was a facebook, twitter and google plus junkie.

I have weaned myself, however, to be only a part-time junkie and rely mostly on my friends and family to keep me informed of current events.

I am grateful that my Jim cannot see this transformation from Heaven as he would simply shake his head and say, in that deep, sexy voice of his “Gina … you need to know what is going on in the world in order to live in the world”.

Well, I have little clue about what is going on and I live a relatively normal life.

Yes, there are goats that randomly come onto my porch.

Yes, a possum, nearly nightly, filches cat food from my feed pans.

Yes, my brother-in-law brings me, fresh from the chicken, eggs that I will never eat.

I may have eaten them if he hadn’t said to me “be sure to wash them first”.  Ick.  I took them, washed them with Dawn and placed them in my refrigerator where they will remain until I either give them to some unsuspecting person or throw them away but I know, without a doubt, that I will not be eating them.

Not ever.

But all of this has little to do with the fact that I really want to watch Lord of the Dance and cannot find my TV remote so that I can do so.

Maybe tomorrow … or the next day.

Eventually, it will turn up and when it does, I will have forgotten why I was looking for it in the first place.

Such is the nature of my life.

But it is all good, or mostly so, and it is all part of the whole.  I am who I am and will be who I’ll be.

When every day is like opening Pandora’s box, who, might I ask, needs TV?

Until next time, be well, my friends, be well.

My sweet ride for a couple of hours ... even without the horses, the Jeep was magnificent

My sweet ride for a couple of hours … even without the horses, driving the Jeep on the beach and over the dunes was magnificent

He played like a demon angel ... talent in spades

He played like a demon angel … talent in spades

He looked right at me and I felt his power through the lens of my camera.  I was awestruck.

He looked right at me. I felt his power through the lens of my camera. I was awestruck.

fear and uncertainty …

filled his blue eyes, open wide and full of worry.  At first glance, from the hallway, the only visible things were a single foot protruding from beneath a blanket and a partially filled urinal on the tray table.

I wondered, before walking into the room to speak with him, what I would find.  I was already feeling badly for him simply knowing that a container holding his urine sat on a table where soon, his lunch would be placed.

I felt that surely, had there been family present, that would not have been the case and, not to my surprise, I found him alone.

He was worried.  It was evident in his sad, sad eyes.  They were wide open, showing the incredible blueness, wrinkled at the edges from a lifetime of emotion; laughter, tears, anger.

He was a widower.  He had children, but his voice betrayed his attempt at courage as he spoke of wishing to go home.  His blue eyes became even more sad as he spoke of a home that he knew, in his heart, he would not return to.

I felt a wave of righteous fury toward his children, none of whom had been to visit him during his week-long stay in the hospital, as he spoke of having nobody to care for him.

I thought of my own father.  Thought of his sadness were he to lose my mother and be left to live out his days without the woman that he loved more than life.

Many times, and to my mother I have said such, I have prayed that if my parents cannot die at the same time, I hope my dad goes first.  I cannot bear to even entertain the thought of him trying to cope without my mother.  He is strong in body and spirit, but would be lost without her.

She, on the other hand, is tough as nails.  A survivor full of beauty and strength and would, though with sadness and tears, move on and make the best of a seriously bad situation.

While her tears would cut me deeply, tears shed by my dad shatter me.  I would be of little use to him, not that he would last for long without her as he would soon die of sadness.  I know this as surely as I know the sun rises in the East.

But I digress.  I wasn’t speaking of my parents, but of poor, sad-eyed mister who lay in the hospital bed, dwarfed by the room, confused by the lingo, hurt by the antipathy of his children.

He wanted to go home and held, other than that wish, no other ambition or hope.

It would not come to pass.  He would not go home.  Not to the home where he lived for over fifty years with his wife before she died.  Not to the home where his children, who had now abandoned him, had been raised.

He would not go back to where the garden once thrived with vegetables and a myriad of flowers in the summertime, the trees bursting full and golden in Autumn.

He would not walk the familiar halls that had brought him comfort in his time of need.

He would not sleep in the bed that conformed to his body due to years of use.

He would be a stranger among strangers.

It took all of my strength and everything I could dig from the depths of myself to not burst into tears while speaking to him; seeing him old and broken and alone.

His wide eyes, full of worry, filled me with compassion and empathy.  I, in my mind and heart, brought him home with me.  Though there is an unwritten rule among nurses to not become too attached, he has been here, dancing on the edges of my thoughts, since the day I met him.

I have cried for him, prayed for him and inwardly cursed his children for their inattentiveness.   I want, in these last years of his life, happiness for him.

I try no to get too attached, but I am human and I fall in love with those the world has so blithely displaced.  He will remain in my prayers and though I will likely never see him again, his eyes will haunt me.

They haunt me now as do so many others; young, old, suffering, addicted, betrayed, sickened, world-weary souls who need, more than anything else, to be loved.

I have said it before and I reiterate it now … I am too softhearted to be a  nurse.  I always have been.

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Leviticus 19:32  ~ Thou shalt rise up before the hoary head, and honor the face of the old man, and fear thy God: I am the Lord.