Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Lost Ice Skates

Her red dress was tattered, faded and torn. It was trimmed with fur on the hem and sleeves as any proud ice-skater would wear. Her scarf is faded gold and frayed and awkwardly tied around her tiny neck. Her blond hair was matted to her head with strands darting this way and that. Her deeply set blue eyes remained shut except when her legs moved her eyes blinked in some odd unison. Her legs were scarred and cracked, brittle and tired. Her feet were bare. They once were bound by lovely white ice skates covering thick warm red socks. Now, they were gone, the socks - the skates, gone. She had been abandoned years ago. She wasn't well liked, actually she wasn't wanted at all. She was left to her solitary confinement in a box for half a century, decaying, darkening, fading and forgotten. Her purpose as a gift was never appreciated. Her delicate frame and lovely attire were of little consequence. She was pushed aside for toy guns, monopoly, a frog collection, a blue bike, a softball glove, bat and ball, and tree forts. She was dead. There was no grieving or longing or even memories of her 'place', she had none except to be hidden away and forgotten in a box, a pink and white striped box.
She was found, quite by accident, last week, still laying in her pink and white striped box. She was held for the first time in fifty years. She waited a very, very long time to be touched. She was in a bigger box, in a storage area of the garage. Her grandmother found her, all alone and waiting, still. Her grandmother gently took her out of her dark cold cave and held her close to her chest, warming her and remembering her from years ago. She carefully brought her upstairs in to the light. Her eyes still blinked in that odd unison when her brittle legs moved. Her torn red skating dress was still in tact. Her matted blond hair, still pretty in it's own unique way. Her feet, still bare.
She was placed in a lovely gift bag wrapped in the whitest tissue paper for her journey back to me. I was being given another chance and so was she. I opened the bag oh so carefully and I remembered her easily. I remembered how I didn't want her and I recalled putting her in that pink and white striped box and leaving her alone. I have no memory of taking her ice skates off - that remains a mystery. I picked her up and held her close. I moved her legs and watched her eyes blink in that odd unison. Her deep set blue eyes still had some sparkle. I think she has forgiven me. She is now sitting proudly on a center branch of "Hope" - the tree. She is a hopeful reminder that all is not lost and forgotten even after fifty years. That new life and meaning CAN be realized long after a gift given is tossed aside. She has a 'place' now, a purpose and she doesn't need her ice skates to fulfill this awakening of spirit.
Who knew that when I left her all those years ago that my life would be as it is now and that she would be found and sit proudly on a tree named 'Hope". There is so much irony in this that I could go on and on. Instead, I hope that you will take from this story what you will, as it may apply to your life and things or people you may have long since put in a box in the dark.


Monday, November 24, 2008

Where To Put The Moose

The moose takes up so much room. It's bulky, loose awkward stance also required that it leaned on something. He was cute enough but also so cumbersome. It was somehow understood that moose are more or less "Christmas-like" especially this one, with his red collar. He was a gift, a big bulky gift. For a long time he was placed near a closet, leaning on a wall, crunched up against a dresser. Comments were made like; he is so big and is taking up all the wall space", or "I can't figure out where to put that moose", and on and on.......... with every comment/complaint I would think, what a glorious problem, 'where to put the moose'. Eventually it was decided that the big bulky moose could be outside, on the deck, as a Christmas decoration. He was placed outside in the cold, leaning on the cold outer house wall, wind blowing his deep brown fur and floppy ears this way and that. There was an element of proud relief as I was told, "the moose?", well, he is outside now, I finally decided to get it out of here, he was just too big, I couldn't even get in to my closet well." And anyway, if it rains or snows I will bring him back in. Problem solved. Again, such a glorious problem to solve, 'where to put the moose'.

A deliver man happened by. He saw the moose, fur all askew sitting alone on the deck. When he rang the bell for his delivery, he said, "Pardon me Ma'am, that moose is going to fade color from the sun and the cold will dry it and it will crack and what if it snows? She said, "I will bring him back in if it rains or snows." "Well Ma'am, the cold and wind, well, it's not my business Ma'am but it wont last a month out here". She signed for her package and he left.

The moose is back inside. He has a new place in her home near the display of family photos and just near the end table., He fit perfectly and she can see him as she watches TV. He has a name, Elmer. Why did I tell you about the moose? I did so because 'where to put the moose' is the biggest problem my wonderful 85 year old Mom has to resolve. I am so grateful that a moose is her focus and not oncology appointments, or visiting nurses or meals on wheels or a hired driver and so forth. She is healthy - she prepares her own meals - she drives and shops - and other than her yearly routine check-ups she has no medical appointments on her calendar. The moose and our many conversations about what to do with him were a beautiful reminder of what is and is not going on in her peaceful life. I never ever minded when she complained about how the moose was in the way or an 'eye-soar' - I loved every discussion about what to do with the moose.

I wish for us all and those we love that the biggest problem we all face is "where to put the moose."!!


Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Protector verses The Intruder

The phone call was not unexpected. I had cautioned that soon good would turn to bad if changes were not made. I was right. And may I add, being right has it's own set of consequences. I wish, with all my heart I had been wrong.

He had no right to call her. After all, she has been the protector, the one who provided safety and a place of healing and love following a desperate time. He decided he had a 'place' in all this. A place he has not yet earned by any stretch. He said such things as, "oh get over yourself, and stop making this so hard and we are coming to get OUR son!" Our son? What the fuck? He hasn't even met him. He has no idea what this child has been through. And her, quiet and submissive, allowing him to talk to her this way. The hurt and betrayal is intense. The protector expecting to be defended for all that has been done, the intruder barraging the protector with 'his' feelings, like they matter and the child's mother unable to stand up and do what is right. To say, "Don't you dare talk to her that way." Instead she justified his feelings and right to be rude and offensive.

And so the child is suppose to come home, Tuesday. She and the intruder will go and get him. If not, she will take custody and he will not come home at all, maybe never. The protector said the intruder is not allowed on her property and for her to come for her son alone. She, without question, stated that she will call the police if he steps one foot on her property. As sure as I am writing this Post I know the intruder will be with her. Her ability to tell him otherwise is lost in her needs and sense of self. He is in control. The protector is in control also and when the two forces meet it will be nothing short of a war, a fight for power and validation and the protector will win. I just don't know what 'winning' will look like. I only know that the protector will win, hands down. Readers, you have no idea how true this is.

I am thinking of my letter to her, my 'Why I Am Thankful For You' letter. As you know, those of you who read it. i spoke to my trust in her process for bringing her son home. I considered changing the letter. I think I will leave it as it is. I still have to stand by and wait to see what she will do, with or without the intruder. I will do my best to warn her of the force waiting for them if she allows him to go with her. I will also remind her that if she doesn't go and get him she will lose custody of her son. And then I will wait. I will continue on with my Thanksgiving preparations. I will neatly fold each letter and place them lovingly on each person's place-setting. We will eat and drink Nouveau Beaujolais and laugh and maybe even cry. There is much unknown at this time. How many will be at our table? Will her son's thankful letter need to be mailed or will there be a place setting for him here on Thanksgiving. I have no idea right now. I do know that the intruder will not be here. He is not invited.

I will pull from every inner and outer resource for balance and peace and kindness. I, like the protector, want to knock him in to next week. How's that for one who professes peace? Or maybe it's her, the submissive one I wish to shake. I know I will defend the protector. The intruder has no idea of my wrath when it comes to protecting my own. I am fierce, relentless, and quite brave. I have the ability to cut someone down with my words. It is a defensive skill I have used only several times in my entire life. I feel it's presence today, waiting to be released at the first sign of needing to defend. I am ready. There is an odd comfort in knowing this - like having a weapon should I need it. Yes, comfort indeed.

Time will tell -

Ready and waiting.

peace and war

Thursday, November 20, 2008

"HOPE" - The Tree - Is Here

We went to Lowe's On Tuesday. I really don't like stores so big and cold. We went to get a new Christmas tree. We always have fun where ever we go, what ever we do, so the minor inconveniences were of little consequence given the joy of just being together, out and about.

And Yes, we caved a few years back and stopped buying live Christmas trees. It was a really difficult decision despite the event that pushed us to it. This particular year we 'top loaded' our wood stove before going to bed. When one top loads, the stove is quite full and to add to the intense heat we closed the doors of the stove.. It was a cold, cold night and we believed this would keep our home warm until morning. Our live Christmas tree was decorated beautifully and standing proudly in the same room as our wood stove, now roaring with fire. At some point in the middle of the night we were awakened by the loud beeping of the fire alarm. We had never heard it before, thank goodness and it was alarming us for sure. We both jumped out of bed and ran downstairs. At first glance, our jet black Vigilante wood stove was now a glowing red. The entire stove had changed colors due to the intense heat. Next we both felt the heat filling the room, so intense it was stifling. I was close to our tree and I intuitively touched it and the needles fell off like dried up leaves. It was seconds away from going up in flames. Skipp began throwing open doors and windows to let the cold air in to lower the temperatures. He knew he had to open the doors of the stove to lessen it's power to burn. He was over three feet away from the stove and still the hairs on both of his arms burned off like cigarette ash. He jumped back moaning. I was petrified. Eventually, with the handle of a long metal shovel he was able to flip the latch on the doors of the wood stove. That, combined with the cold air filtering in from the now opened doors and windows the stove slowly began to change colors and become black again. The air cooled and we were out of harms way. Most of the pine needles were on the rug and our tree stood there, brittle and bare. Our ornaments survived. The following Christmas we purchased our first artificial Christmas tree. Amen.

Artificial trees eventually need to be replaced and this was the year for just that. We looked at many and finally find one that was a natural color and just the right size. While there I noticed a display of live pine trees. The kind in pots and that stood about four feet or so. One in particular was quite lovely. It's needles actually sparkled like it was sprinkled with tiny diamond dust. It was the only one like that. I swear, the only one. I called Skipp over, (he wanders off), and suggested we put this lovely Norfolk Pine outside our front door and later plant it outside. He thought it was a great idea. We had one of those 'flat-bed' long metal carts and he placed the tree on the cart along with our new artificial tree. She was so beautiful. As I waited by the cart, (Skipp was off looking for decorations for his restaurant). He won the best decorated restaurant for Christmas last year and intends to win again. Anyway, as I was sitting there guarding both trees, yes sitting. I travel with my 'Rollator'. It has it's own seat so if I get fatigued I can simply rest for a bit. I am still amazed at how much attention it draws when a person simply "sits for a spell" - whatever. An employee happened by and kindly asked if I needed any help. Apparently when one sits it is assumed help is needed. My experience with this deserves it's own post, it truly does. I asked her if the lovely Norfolk Pine could be in direct sun light. She replied that so long as it is placed at least a foot from a window it would be fine. I was confused, so I questioned, "Why would it need to be a foot from a window while outside?" She replied, "oh no, this tree cannot be outside, it wont survive in temperatures under 40 degrees, this is an inside tree only." I was quite dismayed as I envisioned our home with little room for a tree of this size. I waved to Skipp to come over and told him the news. We both felt we simply didn't have the room. I felt SO badly. I watched as he lifted her off the cart and placed her back on the display with the others. She stood out boldly and beautifully, still shimmering with diamond dust. I felt like I was abandoning this tree - that she belonged with us. I actually was quite sad.

Skipp finished getting decorations and we checked out and left. I could not get that tree out of my mind. I felt like I had abandoned her. Oh I know this is all wrapped in other experiences and I don't care. Maybe this is the grandest of all metaphors, again, I don't care. I know what I felt and it was real. I had a hard time sleeping. By morning I was thinking of ways to rearrange our living room by the picture window to make room for the tree and now I had named her, "HOPE". I shared with Skipp how I was feeling and he joined me in figuring out how we could make room for 'HOPE." We did, with little effort and he got in the car and drove back to Lowe's to get her. I was SO excited I could hardly stand it. Rather than drag me along, rollator in tow, we both felt it would be faster and easier if he went alone. I continued rearranging items and other plants making a perfect place for "HOPE.". I also asked him to get a strand of white lights for her. I opened the door as he carried "HOPE" in to our home and emotionally watched as he placed "HOPE' by our front door and window. She fit perfectly. We put on the lights and we both immediately felt wonderful.

A new tradition has been born with "HOPE." I realized that this Norfolk Pine is a tangible reflection of hope. In honoring that thinking, we hung two items on her diamond dust needles. Items that mean 'hope' to us. I hung a necklace my daughter and children gave me with a little blue stone and tiny diamonds with the hope of family unity and love. Skipp hung a peace rock on a string that his sons carved for him, representing his hope for them to always be at peace. We are asking people to bring something to hang on 'Hope-the tree' that represents hope to them. I am going to keep a small book of what people bring and when and why. This tree will be filled with 'hope'.

I am thrilled by this opportunity. I am in awe of how it came to be. The attraction and draw I felt to her was strong and determined. I was very unsettled when we left her at the store. I was calm and peaceful when Skipp brought "HOPE" home.

"HOPE" is here...........


P.S. If any of you, my readers, wish to send me something to hang on "HOPE'-the tree, we can work it out. I would love if if you did.

Monday, November 17, 2008

"CHOICE" and how not to be "Tied To Te Whipping Post"

I just deleted a "post", titled "Tied To The Whipping Post", named after a song by the Alman Brother's Band. I saved it in a document for later posting. It wasn't time. Perhaps it will never be the right time.
I was definitely strongly challenged regarding an understanding I live by that explains perfectly, all human behavior. I am going to put it out here for your considerations. I have touched on this in earlier posts. Here goes: This is founded in William Glasser's 'Choice Theory' upon which the counseling style 'Reality Therapy' was developed. For this writing the focus will be an explanation of 'Choice Theory', earlier referred to as 'Control Theory'. To validate my right to even explain this I will tell you I am certified in this theory, on the Board of Directors of The New England Assocition of Reality Therapy and live freely, not blaming or as a victim by knowing its rationale.

What motivates a behavior? We are internally driven not externally driven to meet our basic psychological needs, no different than our basic survival needs for food, shelter, procreation, these needs are encoded within us. They are: 1- love and belonging, 2 - power and control (meaning that we believe what we do has value to ourselves and at least one other person, 3 - fun and 4- freedom (to choose to live our life as we desire, such as sexual orientation, style of dress, and so forth). Every day from the day we are born until the day we die every behavior is our best attempt at the time to meet one or all of our basic psychological needs.

Let's take for example a baby. What behavior does it use to meet all it's needs. Right, crying. Eventually, when that doesn't work the baby may try cooing or whatever and so begins the process of each person storing, what is referred to as "need satisfying behaviors to meet our needs". We all have what I will call, a "picture album of behaviors that meet our needs". These "pictures" change over time and the one's we no longer find need satisfying become memories and new pictures are put into our albums for easy access. The best way to explain this is with the following example. When I was three my Dad brought home a little red tractor that he made for me. That tractor met all my needs, it was fun, I had belonging because other little kids came over to ride it, I had power because I felt quite grown up and in charge when I rode it and I was definitely having fun. When that tractor no longer served to meet my needs I replaced it with a bike and eventually a car. The tractor was now a memory of what used to work. Otherwise I would be riding it to work! Right? :-) Moving along. A little about how we are internally motivated to behave to meet our needs and not externally driven. This seems to invoke the most resistance. I understand as I resisted too because in embracing this I could never blame anyone for my behavior and as unsettling as that is I will tell you it is truly empowering and freeing beyond measure. Examples: If you are stopped at a red light and it never turned green would we find your decayed body at that light years later. Of course not. One stops at the light because they are choosing not to break the law. So yes, the external prompted the thought but meeting one's internal needs drove the behavior. I, like you, have gone through many red lights. Another example - when the phone rings do you always answer it? No,I am sure you don't. SO the ringing does promote the thought or feeling but the behavior/choice to answer is internally motivated. We are bombarded by many external factors but what we choose to do in response is ALWAYS about us. No one can make another person behave/act. Breathe............

Okay - phew.............

Next -, "What is a behavior?" Every behavior is broken down in to four parts. 1-thinking, 2- feeling, 3-doing, 4- physiology (as in increased heart rate or tears just flow, etc.). Of the four the ONLY part we are 100% responsible for all the time is the DOING. Every day we are bombarded by external stimuli that forces us to' choose a behavior in response to the external stimuli and what we do in response is always about the one doing the behavior and not about their external world. Here is a very personal accounting to make my point for you, my readers:

When my daughter was seven she was tested and labeled mentally retarded. The language back then was harsh. This label opened up a whole set of discriminatory events, one of which being she had to ride the "special bus" to another school to learn in the 'special needs program'. Those buses were a big red flashing sign that might as well have just flashed "retard". Quite unkind. Anyway, her 'special bus' would pull up around the same time as the 'normal bus'. One kid in particular targeted her. He was older, 14 or 15, a "Jock" type, my little girl was 10. He would do such things as call her cruel names, pull her hair, bump her, pull on her back pack and so forth. She came home crying, often. I spoke to the school, the bus driver and even his Mother - I did all the right things. I would stand on the hill looking down to where the buses stopped. One day my daughter got off the bus and he came up behind her, tore her back pack off so aggressively that she fell face down. In seconds I was charging down the hill, I, without skipping a beat, threw him off balance and right on to the ground, I had my knee in his shoulder while yelling, "you wanna try that with me?" Now, who was responsible for what I CHOSE to do? Certainly not him, that was 100% about me. Did his behavior provoke angry thoughts? Yes! Did his behavior provoke strong feelings? Yes! Did his behavior create an immediate physiology in me? Absolutely, my heart was racing, my hands were clenched. But he DID NOT make me run down that hill and put him on the ground. That made sense to ME at the time. I could have been arrested, thank God I wasn't. And clearly, he never bothered her again and I was known from that point on as the 'crazy lady who waited on the hill!' I share this to make a point. I would never even consider crediting him with my behavior. It is not his to own. And so we are faced with choices every day that are stimulated by many factors. Again, what we do is always about us and our internal drive to meet our basic psychological needs. And by the way, we can never assume which need another person is meeting by their behaviors, it is unique and individual to each of us based on the "pictures we have stored in our album of need-satisfying behaviors.

Some of the more horrific external stimuli are quite difficult to apply to choice theory. It is so much easier to blame, I know. Having been a victim myself I take responsibility for what I did in response,. Of course I wish the stimuli never happened. We are powerless over other peoples behaviors and powerful in our own, even in the worst of circumstances. When I think of the sexual abuse I endured I know what he did was not my fault. I did what I could in that horrible situation to survive the encounters. I give him NO credit for how I survived him, that was about me. Yes, he is to blame for his actions and why that made sense to him will remain a mystery. What pictures did he have in his album? As one who survived I take all the credit for surviving him.

Sometimes the pictures we have stored in our albums are harsh as they meet the demands of our internal world. I had need satisfying pictures no 10 year old should ever have to have, not ever. Again, as a survivor and not a victim I take great pride in my choices and I hold him to nothing. The list could go on of behaviors people have stored in their albums that are so unfortunate and horrid, times of war, assaults, violence, all types of abuse, illness, and the list goes on. I wish with all my might such things didn't exist and that everyone had picture albums filled with gentle behaviors to meet their needs at any given time. Again, I am writing this to empower you. To let you know that no one can ever blame you for what they did nor can you hold anyone accountable for your behavior. Yes, they, sadly, are responsible for their actions and you are then able to create a picture of a behavior that will work to meet YOUR needs. Even in the worst of times. The on going argument is always, "if they didn't do whatever then I wouldn't have done whatever"> I get it, I do. I guess if we wait for the world to be okay so we only have to choose 'nice behaviors' we will be waiting until we die. There will always be powerful events that provoke a strong reaction, it is just that what we DO in response is about the one doing the doing.
In new situations we are forced to find a way to meet our needs by creating a new behavior and then storing it in our album until it no longer works to meet our needs. When I think of the work I do with addiction every client is there because what they were doing no longer works and they are searching for new behaviors to replace the old ones, i.e - using drugs or alcohol. Each person is deciding if they can get high once more or drink again without consequence. Every one is deciding if they have had enough pain. Pain and pleasure are powerful internal motivators that promote changing pictures of need satisfying behaviors. It happens in marriages all the time and certainly applies well to addiction. If people couldn't change the 'picture' of who they choose to love then there would never be a divorce. It is really no different than my red tractor story - in theory. You keep the picture and thus the behavior until it no longer works to meet your needs.

At the risk of beating a dead horse I will conclude. I hope you have been empowered by 'Choice Theory" and that you at least will consider that your behaviors are just that, your behaviors. You are 100% in charge, not of what the world hands you but what you do in response despite the challenge. I am sure this has raised a few eye brows and I understand why. When I think of how I started this post referencing the title "Tied To The Whipping Post" I am aware of my own internal conflict of what will be most need satisfying. My own basic needs are in conflict over this which is often the case. for all of us. Consider, if you will, the wondrous uniqueness and freedom in the above writing. It will only be so if YOU decide it is in your best interest in meeting your basic needs at this time.


Thursday, November 13, 2008

Is Life Fair?

Some times life simply isn't fair. Yea, Yea, I know, - Who said life is suppose to be fair? Blah, blah, blah...........
I was walking in my yard today with my physical therapist. He was more or less mapping out a trail for me to navigate to increase my strength, balance and endurance. That definitely seems fair. All things considered, it is very fair, indeed. I like ending sentences with the word indeed. Gives it a finality or determined feel. Whatever.

What wasn't fair was the details of a phone call I received. My 'ill' family member got more ill. Rushed off to the hospital with some type of liver distress. Not fair, indeed. Enough.

I went outside in the rain afterward. I allowed the cool drops to hit my face and dampen my hair and jacket. I was glad my hair was natural, as in no hair spray, because wet hair spray is quite unsightly. The wind was strong and the rain drops quickly tuned to little bee bees stinging my cheeks. I didn't care. I leaned on my cane, which, by the way, I had specially made. It is yellow with colorful butterflies and flowers and was hand carved in Vietnam. Initially I feared it was made in some child labor mill. Actually, I still think that. Sorry.

The grass was squishy and muddy. As I looked around a few leaves clung to branches for dear life. Our wood pile, stacked between two trees adorned with those tree face characters, awaits it's final journey to the fires of our wood stove. I heard the U P S truck. Every vehicle is of interest because there is no traffic here, other than the neighbors. The U P S guy brought a large package to our door. I sauntered over. It couldn't be. I just ordered that yesterday! But it was true, indeed. My son's "Go" board arrived in less that 24 hours. Mind boggling. For those of you who do not know, the "Go" board is a game with little black and white pieces that move around the board. I have no idea how the game is won or lost, only that my son asked for it for Christmas. I am sure I will learn how to play when he is home during the Christmas holiday. I am looking forward to it. I dragged the heavy, bulky box inside out of the elements.

I had a wonderful evening with my daughter. The "North-South' gal. We had a joyous time. I made, what she refers to as "plucky foods". Cute, huh? We started with fried dough and marinara sauce for dipping. One of her favorites, and mine too. Real comfort food. Then we had steak quessadilla rolls and potato skins. All fun food. I had all the right dipping sauces and toppings to complete our meal. It was perfect. She talked a lot an I listened intently. Her new guy' sounds all right and I/we will meet him soon. She makes me laugh like no one else can. Her humor and wit is right on. And, I , with ease, wrote her "Why I Am Thankful For You Letter' yesterday, as well. It is a beautiful writing. I guess our upheaval last week was needed to clear the air, so to speak. I got to the love and gratitude easily and her beauty and wonder and gifts flowed on to the paper like soft rain. Mother's, well this mother, rallies quickly and I prefer to live and relate in the goodness and love rather than any hurt or fear. I know those feelings and outcomes demand attention and I also know, once expressed, that resolve must follow.
Here is the letter I wrote to her.

Thanksgiving - 2008

Dear Jennifer,
This year has had many facets. Regardless, our love and ability to work through anything is amongst one of my greatest gifts with and from you. Any relationship can stay strong when it is smooth sailing. You and I have weathered many storms - each one bringing us closer and with more understanding of who we are as Mother and daughter. This too fills me with gratitude. I love that you believe I am worth it, that we are worth it. There is no greater gift than to be “worth someone’s while”.

I so admire how amazing you are with your clients at work. Your ability to make them feel worthy, safe, comfortable and able to even laugh at themselves is truly a gift, and a tribute to you and your good sense of self. Not everyone can work in such an environment, but you? You shine like a bright beacon of hope for so many who are lost. I am filled with joy when clients tell me how wonderful you are, or how you took extra time to just listen to them. You are helping people to heal and grow and re-empower themselves and you do it with sensitivity, humor, kindness and wisdom. Just think of the many lives that you have helped re-shape. I am so thrilled when I say, “Jennifer? - that’s my daughter”!! :-)

I agonized as I felt, deeply, the events that broke you. And I stood at attention applauding your courage to finally say, “ENOUGH”!! You have turned your whole life around and I know how hard it was to move on. But you did. I know your heart breaks for Jo’el’s distance from you. Mine does too. I believe in you Jennifer, and I know you will do what you need to do to bring him home. It is in your time and your ability to do so and I stand, lovingly, in waiting. I cherish who you are as a Mom and I have been privileged to share in your being Jo’el’s Mom. I have been selfish in some ways, wanting you to do things on my time schedule. That is no longer the case. I trust you as his Mom, and I cannot even begin to imagine what this separation has been like for you. And I know that you are driven to be united with him again and so I will trust in you, your process for reunification. Until then, know that I carry in me, your sorrow, your hope and your amazing courage to start again.

I am forever grateful for you. You still make me laugh like no one else can, and I love you SO very, very much. - NO MATTER WHAT!
Love, Mom

I started this post writing that life isn't fair - as I conclude I realize that this outcome is quite fair, quite fair indeed. (love that word) :-)


Saturday, November 8, 2008

Apricot Brandy!

"I am going to buy myself a bottle of apricot brandy"!!

Hearing those words from my Mom this morning filled me with gratitude and hope. She had received some money in one of her birthday cards and decided to 'treat herself' for her "85th"
birthday, tomorrow. Of all the things she could have said she needed to do or get or deal with she spoke happily of apricot brandy.

We talk every day, two to three times a day. We visit often and enjoy each other tremendously. She is, by far, one of my most precious gifts to behold. At 85, she still drives, takes herself to church, the hairdresser, shopping, and to my house for lunch. She is always "chilly", so I always make sure there is a fire going strong in our wood stove. She loves her 'sweets', so I always have cookies or pastry here when she visits. She would prefer just the sweets rather than traditional luncheon foods - and so what! She can have whatever she likes.

Her sense of humor? Light and often unsuspected. One never knows what she will say.
Her faith? She has enough for all her family.
Her love? Is stronger and bigger than the highest mountains.
Her beauty? Is gentle, simple and with a touch of elegance.
Her mind? Sharp as a tack.
Her memories? Endless, with joys and sorrows, birth and death, hope and despair, tradition, and an abundance of wisdom.
Her purpose? To lead her family through good times and bad, with gentle wisdom and guidance and faith and always with love.
Her needs? For her family to stay close not only to her but to each other, to know we will carry on her traditions long after she is gone, to enjoy the simplest of life's offerings - the smells of Thanksgiving, the first snow, winter doves, fried dough on Christmas Eve, forgiveness, a hot cup of tea, faith, warm apple pie, the colors of Autumn, cloudy days, afternoon "snoozes", comfy quilts, patience, teddy bears, bells, poems and photos marking occasions, prayer, home made sauce, family gatherings, honor and loyalty, and to love no matter what.

And of course, relaxing in her rocker with a nice snifter of apricot brandy to soothe anything that ails her.

"Happy 85th Birthday Mom - I love you SO very much!

Friday, November 7, 2008

North or South

It was rainy and dank - the day had been long hobbling about to attend to simple needs. The teapot looked so far away. Navigating balance, a cup of steaming tea, the cane and my dignity are a bit too much all at once. The South West Indian table and chair was my destination. A short journey I never even thought about it but here I was so aware of every odd step and all the spills of tea now on the floor and me. I made it.

I was waiting for her to arrive. I was excited for the company, for the comfort of not being alone. I lit a candle setting a mood of warmth and welcome suitable for two queens sharing a simple meal and kind conversation of interest and humor. Oh yes, this will be wonderful. I slowly sipped my tea while straightening our place mats, soon to be covered with plates, amethyst in color, forks and knives, pretty glasses and flowered napkins. I removed papers and magazines I leafed through earlier to gain insight for Christmas, placing them under the table on the bench that lines the back of the table. The benches are upholstered in a fabric of mosaic design, subtle, with jade, beige, Burgundy and teal. The high back chairs are covered in the same earthy Indian fabric design. The harvest table has served many and this evenings meal is special, just me and her.

I was ready and waiting. I started to feel that nervous feeling as time marched on and I did not hear from her. Huh. She must be running late, I thought, she said she would be here to help with dinner and spend time. Huh. "Should I call?" "No, I will give it a little more time." I finished my tea.........and called.

"Where are you?" - I asked. "On my way to the mall", she replied. I felt sick, "The mall?" I questioned. She said she thought she would be back "in time". I challenged, "in time for what, it is late and I was waiting for you to have dinner." She fumbled over her excuses claiming she did not recall our plans including dinner and that she hoped to stop by after she finished at the mall. I was stunned by her thoughts. Clearly, we had plans for dinner and not only to spend time but because as I regain my strength I need the help. Again, I was stunned. Her reasons and excuses were endless and none made any sense. I wanted them to because I did not want to believe that she simply "blew me off!" That is exactly what she did, she blew me off to spend time with 'him'. That came out later as I pushed on with the what and why and she eventually said she was going to the mall with him.

At some point she claimed she did not do this "on purpose". I pretty much lost any ability to be calm at that point. I said, "when you got in your car with him at 5:00 and headed South towards the mall rather than North to my house as was planned - that is absolutely "on purpose"" Amazingly, she still argued it was not. I thought I was losing my mind. (As a side note, he is one of many attempts at a relationship - he lives with his Mother, (he's 30), has his own construction business and he is the only worker and interestingly, his "business" allows him to be free most afternoons to be with her, and his truck is often broken down.). Perhaps this is better than the one just before who was wearing an ankle bracelet locked on by the Department of Corrections as an extra measure of security while on parole - p.s. two weeks ago he violated his Parole and is back in prison and now this new one is "on the scene". It is mind boggling if not very frightening, disappointing and yesterday, very hurtful.

I have to share what she claimed was the violation of parole. She said, "that while they were at a "Haunted House" for Halloween his ankle bracelet could not be monitored and so they put out a warrant for him claiming he was out of his allowed distance from home. Good one, huh?

I haven't met the new guy. I pretty much am sure I don't care to. I asked her how she thought that a man with no job security, no reliable vehicle and resides with his Mother could enhance her life? She spoke of him being kind and fun and nice and that she wasn't looking for anything 'serious'. If the 'nothing serious' part is true than why would she choose not to come and be with me as we planned? I felt like a fool actually, believing she would be there as excited as I was to be together. Talk about humbling!

If I look beyond my hurt I am overtaken by unyielding fears. Her choices in life's partners have proven to be violent and abusive. It is only six months ago that her 'man' robbed her apartment and threatened her with a knife, witnessed by her six year old son. The legal outcomes were endless and her son now lives with her sister some 500 miles away so he is out of harms way. Little has changed to make it safe for his return which is a heart-breaking beyond words. I have talked until I am blue about how this is affecting him, but to no avail. It is a sensitive line to walk - on the one hand I am so amazed at her sister for taking on this responsibility of caring for her nephew and on the other hand I am sick over her allowing this to go on. So choices such as yesterday remind me of all her other dangerous decisions which over shadow any hurt I may feel. I have tried to not ask any questions, and let it all be and I have tried the extreme opposite - nothing makes a difference. I think this is what powerless really means, huh?

I managed to fumble around the kitchen and slice some chicken off one of those ready cooked one's Skipp bought at the grocery store. It served the purpose, to sustain. I can't remember a sadder or more frightening meal while alone recalling her life and her son's life, as well. I am struggling with a decision I need to make. This will sound just awful, I know, but it is how I feel today. She was planning to meet her sister halfway between upstate NY and here so she can bring back her son and his two cousins to have Thanksgiving here. Today, I want to tell her to have Thanksgiving in upstate NY - just keep on driving and cook for herself and her son and his cousins. I don't know if I can pretend as much as will be required. I make no apologies for how I feel only regrets that I even have such situations to wrestle with and carry. Also, I write "Why I Am Thankful For You" letters to everyone who sits at our Thanksgiving table. Whatever would I write? This tradition is HUGE in our family and has been for over a decade. Today it feels as if it has been desecrated.

Or perhaps the love and kindness of the day can promote healing and give hope and example of family and time honored traditions that provides comfort and something to hang on to when all else is bleak. My dilemma is that she does not know it is bleak, I know...........but if she is unaware how can she benefit from the many gifts of the day? I am not one who gives up easily and that is evident if you have read any of my blogs. I also love hard and care deeply - also evident in my writings. I am frozen. Paralyzed with fear and desire to dismiss. Maybe dismiss is not the right word - 'let go', yes - 'let go'. I have been the beacon of light and hope and wisdom and all for naught. I have provided a roof over her and her son's head, rescued her from a dangerous situation in Florida, rescued her from yet another dangerous situation in New Haven, paid to get her car back from the 're-po' guy, kept her lights on, her gas on, and paid back balances on Day Care bills, provided other financial support and emotional support following many wrong decisions she made. And here we are again, the same cycle of self destruction and lack of regard outside the need to be with a man. The void is not mine to fill -I thought I could, I believed I should and I did all that was necessary to be her answer when all else crumbled around her. Enabling you may ask? Probably, it is hard to discern in the moment. When your child is broken it is a natural force within to fix and save. I don't know how to not do that. I don't know how to let her go........... I believe it is what I have to do, I just don't know how. The 'Thanksgiving' thing wold make quite a statement about letting go, too much? Your thoughts would be considered.


Wednesday, November 5, 2008

M S andThe Meeting of The Minds

The minds came together. And yes readers, "Auntie Botti" is a metaphor for 'anti body'. My condition demands that I trick the tricksters that have been tricked, so to speak.

The great minds don't have any new or exciting approaches or tricks up their sleeves. I didn't think they would. It's interesting because sitting in the office staring at their degrees and various machines that measure this and that - with this disease, this unpredictable disease with a mind of it's own - their great minds have statistics on approaches that may or may not have anything to do with what is best for me. They know it and I know it. And yet, for the sake of high insurance premiums, co-pays, and pharmaceutical rip-offs (my medication is $1400.00 per month)~! we all sit and talk about how, in this study or trial these results were indicated. Don't get me wrong, they are good doctors, top of the line they simply don't know everything.

Thankfully, they 'listen' to me. I know me and what is happening to me and what works and what doesn't to trick "Auntie Botti" again so my anti bodies stop attacking the very thing they are intended to protect. Steroids do that, and so I had some, a lot. Also certain exercises send signals to nerve endings that redefine movement and muscle control. Rest is critical. For some reason, when I am rested the anti bodies aren't so confused. How's that for medical jargon? :-)

Funny thing. I have written of such things as abuse and betrayal and yet I struggle to define myself as one who has 'Multiple Sclerosis' - M S for short. There, I wrote it. Said it. Phew. I am in the midst of what is called an exacerbation - creepy word don't ya think? I will call it a, ummmm......................................... gee, I don't know, any ideas?

So, to Fallen Angel? I am all right. In my fight mode to get "back on both feet" - literally! This is temporary and this too shall pass. Find your way to me if you can, however you can. And to my friends/readers in blog land? Remember, everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle, so be kind.


Monday, November 3, 2008

Auntie Botti

We all have an Auntie Botti - that unyielding force that steps up when need be to set things right. At the first sign of trouble Auntie begins the fight. It is something we just come to count on, like sunrise and sunset. My Auntie Botti got confused, lost sight of purpose and got tricked in to believing something else was true. So Auntie fought hard believing it was the right thing to do and all along Auntie was destroying what was suppose to be protected. I tried to understand why, or better said I tried to understand why not. How could life be so cruel as to take Auntie's mission of hope and deceptively turn the mission in to one of destruction. Auntie felt bad falling into this trap and was blinded by the complexity of it all. I had no choice but to become part of a plan to once again trick Auntie so the mission could once again be one of protection. People with great minds and degrees were called to task to devise a plan. I needed Auntie to work again and so I listened and followed the directives of the great minds. For a time it worked. Auntie reversed the pattern and began to fight to protect I began to relax knowing Auntie Botti was back in charge. It stayed like that for over two years. I thought, Hey, I am all set.
And then the deceivers came back, confusing Auntie again and the mission had different outcomes. There is a weakness and loss of control and inability to balance. A fatigue takes over that makes simple tasks overwhelming. I knew Auntie Botti was fighting as hard as always, only now, as before the fight was against instead of for.
And so the meeting of the great minds will ensue. Auntie Botti has to be tricked, once again, in to fighting differently - just as hard but differently. It is a tough battle for the great minds to fight. - Even tougher for the one whose Auntie has turned on them through no fault of her own. Auntie, after all, believed she was doing her job. It was the signals that were all wrong.
What new signals and stimuli will the great minds suggest this time. The same as before? A new approach? Time will tell. It is quite difficult when trust is broken because what you believed to be true and that which you could count on no longer exists. It is a deep betrayal when your Auntie turns on you, even when you know Auntie had no idea, the concept is frightening. In essence, that is the real betrayal, Auntie being tricked and not knowing. There is no one to blame or be angry with so it leaves a person with a range of emotions and no where to direct them.
The great minds will take over. It is pretty much a 'try this and that' approach, hoping that one of the this's and that's will redirect Auntie by tricking her back on the right course of action. I hope Auntie and I find our way to unison quickly this time. It is very unsettling to be at odds with one's Auntie Botti, very unsettling indeed.