Category Archives: sisters

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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When hatefulness spews forth …

I am nearly always sorry afterward.  Nearly.  My closest friends and my sister know my moods and how my mind works.  They understand that there are times when I am not feeling myself and I try, with everything I have, to pick a fight.  If someone decides to fight back, knowing that in the grand scheme, it is irrelevant, but crucial to my psyche, then all is good.  When I am left to my own design, I deal with the the only way I know how.  The way that works best for me.  I throw things.

Yep.  I throw things that shatter and break.  Tonight it was a Bone-China cup.  A wonderful sound does Bone-China make when it shatters into a hundred pieces.  It seems that, as that glass shatters, so does all the hatefulness and stress that is, at the moment, overtaking my body and mind.  When my husband was living, he became adept at dodging flying objects.  I hit him once and, after the first pump-knot, he learned that I aimed to hit.  We laughed about it, even though, at the moment of impact, it wasn’t funny.  Fulfilling and comforting to me, but not funny.  Not at the moment.  I hurt him, physically, and shocked him otherwise.  I was sorry, but not enough to promise to never do it again. I did it again, a few times, but he had learned to gauge my moods and knew when flying objects would be part of his world.  He would never fight back with me though.  And so, the outbursts to my sister and friends continued, escalating after his death, and  now back to normal outburst frequency.  It amazes me sometimes that they don’t just tell me to get lost.  I am so very blessed.

It is a rare thing for me to get so stressed that I resort to that.  If the truth be known, when I stopped at my sisters house last evening, it was to provoke a fight.  She knows better than anyone that sometimes, I just need to have it out with somebody and is, usually, a willing sparring partner.   She wasn’t home, though, and I couldn’t find enough hatefulness in my heart to take it out on my niece and brother.  So I turned to my friends.  They must feel so special to get a message a couple of times a year that tell them just how badly they have pissed me off.  I know, were I to receive such a message, I would just cry; maybe for days.  But they know how my mind works.  They understand the need for release and none of them, so far, have held it against me.  I have, however, had to offer an apology or two when I forgot my boundaries.  I don’t forget my boundaries as much as I ignore them.  But I never, ever want to hurt anyone’s feelings intentionally, although, on occasion, I do without meaning to. For that, I really am sorry.

I used to apologize for myself all the time, but in the last few years, I have decided that I am who I am.  And who I will be is yet to be determined because I haven’t crossed that bridge yet.  My friends know me, my family understands me and I am at peace, for the most part, with myself; what else on earth could anyone ask for?

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Proverbs 27: 5-6 ~ Better is open rebuke than hidden love.  Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.

As our Gracie grows …

I find that watching her is one of my most wonderful blessings.  The years seem to have flown by and now, she is just a couple of months shy of her fifth birthday.  She can do whatever she tries to do, follows her sister wherever she goes and can hold her own (especially in the ones she starts), in a good old fashioned wrestle.  She has learned that pouting works with everyone but me and doesn’t even bother anymore.  She just points her finger at me and says things that I’m almost glad I can’t understand.  She has her own mind, her own will and her own ambitions.  She has her own way of doing things and is pretty set on doing it HER way.  Having to share everything and everyone with a sister who is cut from the same cloth makes like interesting, to say the least.

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When Gracie first came into the world, she was early.  Very early.  And she was almost immediately diagnosed with Down’s Syndrome.  She won our hearts so quickly, we didn’t really have a chance to absorb the fact that she had Down’s.  We prayed and God answered; she would touch our lives in a way that none of us, not even us optimists, could ever imagine.

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While she says many things that are amusing, there are two phrases she says that melt me like warm chocolate.  “Hi Nini” and “Love you, too, Nini”.  I’ve never once called when Gracie was around that she didn’t pick up the phone and say “Hi Nini”, whether she knew it was me or not.  I love that.  It makes me feel good inside to know that I am part of this beautiful child’s life.  I’m not the only one, though.  Ask anyone who has had the pleasure of being around her; she has a gift.  A gift of encouragement and light.  She never fails to bring joy to anyone who sees her.  It is rather awesome to watch.  She has a special light around her; one that makes everyone want to be near her … makes me want to be near her.  A light that makes even the worst of days insignificant when she puts those little arms around my neck.

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She has come a long way, our Gracie.  From barely hanging on to thriving and living in a world she feels safe in and isn’t afraid to explore.  She reminds me what I want to be when I grow up.  Yes, she is truly a blessing in my life, but by far, not the only one; not by a longshot. (If you haven’t read Watching Gracie Grow, read it here http://wp.me/p1CqmN-m )

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Psalms 100 ~  1 Make a joyful noise to the Lord; all ye lands.  2 Serve the Lord with gladness; come before His presence with singing.  3 Know ye that the Lord he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.  4 Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.  5 For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.

Those unexpected moments …

always seem to happen at the least convenient time.  I was just about to clock out at work today and meet an old friend for dinner.  We hadn’t seen each other in over a year and were going to celebrate our birthdays; mine near the end of November and hers three weeks later.

Just as I was gathering my things, I got a text from my mom telling me that my sister and cousin had been in a wreck and were at the hospital.  Needless to say, all thoughts of meeting up with old friends flew out the window.  Two distinct images came into my mind: first, her Mercedes, crumpled and broken; second, my nieces in the back seat.  As it turned out, she wasn’t driving the car but the Suburban and thankfully, prayerfully in gratitude, the girls weren’t with her.

After reaching my mom on the phone, I was able to discern that there were scans and xrays being performed and I made haste to get to the hospital.  It never changes.  That feeling of heading toward the hospital uncertain of what you’ll find when you get there.  You have details, but they are sketchy and leave way too much room for fodder.  Then there is the clerk at the desk who has to ask five times for the name of the person you are looking for so he can find them in the computer.  At long last the magic doors to the bowels of the ER are opened and I am allowed entrance.

Why should this time be any different than any other time I had been there?  The moment I walked through the doors, I was lost.  There were so many halls and numbered rooms, glass from floor to ceiling with only a curtain to stretch across to protect the inside from prying eyes.  It always makes me feel odd to walk those halls with, obviously, no clue where I am going and have people who know, obviously, that I have no clue where I’m going and yet just pass me by.

After wandering around for a bit, I found my sister in a room with the date of 1/3/2012 on the dry erase board on the wall.   She was lying flat of her back with a cervical collar snugly in place, the wires going in every direction and quite unhappy with the whole situation.  She wasn’t on a backboard and the way she kept moving about, I figured she was ok, otherwise, she would have been somewhat restrained.

More than an hour passed and she asked to go to the bathroom.  She was told she was not allowed to get up but that she could use the bedpan.  She looked at the nurse as though she had suddenly blurted out a mouthful of profanity.  No thank you was the response to the bedpan.  And time passed.  The Xrays that were supposed to have been back nearly an hour before were not.  My sister’s allowance to get out of bed hinged on the results of those Xrays.  If she could get out of bed, she could get to the bathroom.  And time passed.  Finally, my prissy sister decided that she really had no choice but to ask for a bedpan.  It seemed to be an uneventful and successful undertaking until a few moments later, when she asked me “is this bed wet?”.   I burst out laughing.  I simply could not help myself.  I’m not proud of it, but simply had no control over it.  Later, we all laughed about it because not only does my sister know she’s prissy, she’s proud of it.  I’m just glad everyone is, although sore and creaky, unharmed.  Thank God.

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Psalms 103:1 ~ Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name.

I’m not the envious type …

never have been, thankfully.  I’ve always been the type of person that was so very happy for anyone doing what it was that I wanted to do; experiencing the things that are on the list of things to do before I die … important moments that I can only hope to be a part of. That is no different now.  Although being in New York City and seeing the tree at Rockefeller Center on my birthday is on the top five things to do before I die, I could not be more happy for my sister.  She is there.  She and my brother (my sister’s husband), walking the streets, looking in the windows, stopping to listen to the saxophone player and then putting a bill in his case because he is just damn good.

And though I don’t see her walking into the seedier part of town just to get to a little hole-in-the-wall Italian joint, (I do, however, remember this place in China Town with a secret door and weaponized thugs where she tried to have me killed over a purse), a place that treats a tourist like a tourist and a local like a local; a place that I would do my very best to make friendly so that, even though I was a tourist, they would treat me like a local.  I’d have my camera out, hoping they, whoever they at that particular moment would be, would grace me with a few moments of their life in my lens.  I have so many lives in my lens.  I look back at the photographs sometimes and simply sob with gratitude that I was allowed to be a part of a life moment, at some time, in some place.

Yes, I hope she is having the time of her life, she and her husband, as they enjoy the beauty of New York with the drab streets and bare trees.  I hope she takes a photograph of the “virtual billboard” in Times’ Square, not really because she wants to but because she knows I would.  I hope she enjoys the subway and takes in the sounds and sights as she flies through the tunnels.  I hope the late Autumn, Christmas ready New York is everything she hoped it would be.  I hope, beyond all rational thought, that she has the best time of her life.  We may not always see eye to eye, but when it comes to the sticking point, I know who to call.

another of my many mottoes ~ Wherever you are, whatever you do, do it for yourself; otherwise your life will always be lived vicariously and the real experience will never be your own.  Dreaming is dreaming, irregardless of the dream.

What on Earth …

happened to your face?  I can see the question in their eyes even as they cast quick and surreptitious glances in my direction.  But they never actually ask it.  They simply stare, amazed at the disfigurement and damage on someone’s face.  The face.  The first thing, unless you’re a pervert, that one notices.  It is either the eyes, the mouth, the shape of the chin.  It is human nature to see and analyze a face in mere moments.  There is an immediate response that says good, bad, friendly, sweet, ugly, beautiful, distrustful, untrustworthy, hot, homely, dirty, weird, sneaky, seeking, loving, sad, angry, hurt, happy, joyful and a myriad of others.  There is no point in denying that I have done the same; wanted to know what had happened to cause something, some disfigurement, but was too afraid to ask.  Afraid of all manner of things; confrontation, ignominy, silence, isolation.  But no more will I be afraid to ask because in this place of disfigurement-induced  insecurity I speak of, I have recently visited.

Three days ago, I was walking from my house to my parents’ house (they weren’t there, but my sister and brother were.  My brother is my sister’s husband.  I don’t have a blood brother, but if I did, he would be just like Chris.  But I digress).  I didn’t realize as I was “gawking along” ( as Granny Minton would say), that my sister’s Bassett pups were around.  I would most definitely have paid more attention.  What happened is this; I tripped over one of the pups and,  as it befell so fast and not having adequate time to throw arms out to brace my fall, fell, face first onto the gravel driveway. (the pup, by the way, was unharmed)

I was certain, as I immediately began to feel the blood pour (and knew that if I saw it, I would faint dead away), that my nose was broken and likely some teeth were missing.  I went into the house and freaked my sister and brother out.  I was a mess and I was very afraid that I was going to be sick just thinking about it.  Funnily enough, after I rinsed with water, the nurse in me took over.  I knew when I looked at the gash between my eyes that it needed stitches, but I, being as nurses are (stubborn and self-sufficient to a fault), thought I could just throw some Steri-Strips on there and be good.  Luckily for me, I couldn’t find my stash and my sister, bless her soul, drove me to the ER.  Five stitches and close to a third of the skin on my face in a clean line from mid-forehead to chin later, I am wondering what the heck happened and know, without doubt, that God protected me from more serious injury. I know with absolute certainty that it could have been much, much worse.

A few people did ask and I was relieved to know that there were people who look at my face and wonder what happened; then ask.  It usually brought a bit of sympathy with a dash of humor.  I don’t hold it against the pup.  She was just doing what she does.  But the next time I want to know what happened to somebody, I’m going to ask them.  The worst they can do is tell me to mind my own.  I don’t want to be only a bystander.  I want to be a part of the humor, the pain, the embarrassment, the insecurity and in the midst of all that, I hope to be, on some small scale, an encouragement.

There’s something about sisters …

that makes you want to hug them tightly even as you tear their hair out.  Something about someone who knows which buttons to push to get a certain reaction.  Someone you can call anytime and know that, without hesitation, they will help you hide a body.  Someone who knows your deepest secrets and only uses them against you to win an argument.  Someone who will stand with you even if the two of you are the only ones standing.  Someone who knows the difference between when you need to fight to vent and when you’re really mad.  Someone who forgives you for saying stupid and hurtful things.  Someone who sometimes says stupid and hurtful things.  Someone who seems to have an innate sense of when you need to be, depending, encouraged or discouraged.  Someone who will pray for you without being asked.  Someone who, were they no longer in our life, would leave an illimitable hole in our heart.  Our sister; our friend, enemy and ally.  I am thankful for mine.