Thursday, October 20, 2011

Dad lived until October 22nd 1984

My Dad was born and raised in Stratford, CT. - one of eight children - six boys and two girls. His parents were immigrants to Ellis Island from Austria. My Dad was given the nick-name of "Booty" when he was a boy - apparently because he always wore boots. He had many, many stories to share of his childhood - his father would repair their shoes with railroad ties and they slept three in a bed. One of his younger brothers was a bed-wetter! He shared how he ran away from home and joined the carnival when he was twelve. The police found him and he said they hit him with rubber hosing. Can you even imagine? Although, he added, he never ran away again. :-) His Dad died when he was sixteen and then he joined the army as soon as he was of age. He had already had met my Mom and she 'waited' for his return. He was a WWll vet - earning the purple heart. He was captured the last seven days of the war - and was held captive in a barn. He claims the reason they didn't shoot him is because he had chocolate to offer as a bribe. He also said they had beer and he kept a can opener under the rafters on a nail outside a window in the loft. Twenty five years later my Mom and Dad returned to Germany. The barn he was held captive in was now a restaurant. He went upstairs, reached out the window and there, on the nail, was his can opener. I have that can opener now - proudly displayed in a glass case near his encased American flag given to my Mom at his military funeral.

My Mom and Dad had a gentle loving relationship. I learned how a man should treat a woman and vice versa from watching them. His only vice being that he, at times, drank way too much. Way beyond that was his strong work ethic, love of family, appreciation of flowers - he was a florist by trade although he spent his life readying new trucks for delivery and at times he would take long hauls with piggy-backed 18-wheelers. He taught me to drive his company standard shift pick-up truck when I was twelve and I was able to drive an 18-wheeler by age fourteen.
He taught me how to pitch fast ball- I was a star softball pitcher - pitching no hitters at every game. I practiced with my Dad every night - broke my share of windows too!! He is the one who gave me my nick-=name - "Gimpy" when I broke my ankle. He said I 'gimped', not limped! :-)

I also learned what being a good friend and neighbor meant - when the house across the street from us was on fire they had to stop him from going in to save the woman still trapped - I can still see the other neighborhood men holding him back as it was clear it was just too late. She died that night holding her dog. My Dad never really made peace with that.

His philosophy was that every day he needed to make people laugh. And he did. He was very funny. He also was able to cry - I watched him sob at his brother's funerals and when he lost dear friends. He cried at happy times too, our weddings, graduations, births of our children. He was very 'present' in our lives, no matter what.

He was just 64 when he died - a heart attack. He lives on in me, and my Mom, my sister and all those who knew him. In honor of him I will leave you with some of his funny sayings - I hope to make you laugh today in honor of my Dad ....

"We have more fun than people"

"How tall do you weigh?"

"Do you walk to work or carry a lunch"

"You didn't eat that did you?" (which he would say if he went in to the bathroom after someone had done their "daily constitution"...) :-)

"Get Bent" (he never really swore so if he was upset at someone, and only if it were a guy he would say "Get Bent"...

He was a real joker too. His sister Eva lived with us for a while and she was going on a date and he hid her false teeth!!!

If you were an over-night guest at our house expect to have your bed "short-sheeted"

and I could go on, but you get the gist, :-)

I miss you still and oh how you live on.

I love you,  Gimpy-Gays

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Please Hear WHat I Am Not Saying - a poem

Please Hear What I'm Not Saying

Don't be fooled by me.
Don't be fooled by the face I wear
for I wear a mask, a thousand masks,
masks that I'm afraid to take off,
and none of them is me.
Pretending is an art that's second nature with me,
but don't be fooled,
for God's sake don't be fooled.
I give you the impression that I'm secure,
that all is sunny and unruffled with me, within as well as without,
that confidence is my name and coolness my game,
that the water's calm and I'm in command
and that I need no one,
but don't believe me.
My surface may seem smooth but my surface is my mask,
ever-varying and ever-concealing.
Beneath lies no complacence.
Beneath lies confusion, and fear, and aloneness.
But I hide this.  I don't want anybody to know it.
I panic at the thought of my weakness exposed.
That's why I frantically create a mask to hide behind,
a nonchalant sophisticated facade,
to help me pretend,
to shield me from the glance that knows.
But such a glance is precisely my salvation, my only hope,
and I know it.
That is, if it's followed by acceptance,
if it's followed by love.
It's the only thing that can liberate me from myself,
from my own self-built prison walls,
from the barriers I so painstakingly erect.
It's the only thing that will assure me
of what I can't assure myself,
that I'm really worth something.
But I don't tell you this.  I don't dare to, I'm afraid to.
I'm afraid your glance will not be followed by acceptance,
will not be followed by love.
I'm afraid you'll think less of me,
that you'll laugh, and your laugh would kill me.
I'm afraid that deep-down I'm nothing
and that you will see this and reject me.
So I play my game, my desperate pretending game,
with a facade of assurance without
and a trembling child within.
So begins the glittering but empty parade of masks,
and my life becomes a front.
I tell you everything that's really nothing,
and nothing of what's everything,
of what's crying within me.
So when I'm going through my routine
do not be fooled by what I'm saying.
Please listen carefully and try to hear what I'm not saying,
what I'd like to be able to say,
what for survival I need to say,
but what I can't say.
I don't like hiding.
I don't like playing superficial phony games.
I want to stop playing them.
I want to be genuine and spontaneous and me
but you've got to help me.
You've got to hold out your hand
even when that's the last thing I seem to want.
Only you can wipe away from my eyes
the blank stare of the breathing dead.
Only you can call me into aliveness.
Each time you're kind, and gentle, and encouraging,
each time you try to understand because you really care,
my heart begins to grow wings--
very small wings,
very feeble wings,
but wings!
With your power to touch me into feeling
you can breathe life into me.
I want you to know that.
I want you to know how important you are to me,
how you can be a creator--an honest-to-God creator--
of the person that is me
if you choose to.
You alone can break down the wall behind which I tremble,
you alone can remove my mask,
you alone can release me from my shadow-world of panic,
from my lonely prison,
if you choose to.
Please choose to.
Do not pass me by.
It will not be easy for you.
A long conviction of worthlessness builds strong walls.
The nearer you approach to me
the blinder I may strike back.
It's irrational, but despite what the books say about man
often I am irrational.
I fight against the very thing I cry out for.
But I am told that love is stronger than strong walls
and in this lies my hope.
Please try to beat down those walls
with firm hands but with gentle hands
for a child is very sensitive.

Who am I, you may wonder?
I am someone you know very well.
For I am every man you meet
and I am every woman you meet.

Charles C. Finn
September 196

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

OCTOBER - many truths

October! Any of you who have known me for a while know October is a tricky month. It is the month of events upon which parts of the premise of my blog was formed. TRUTH.
I felt as of late in a slump, sad and distracted and as if chaos and turmoil were astir within. And so it was so - "Annie" (the kid in me), has been whimpering some and looking for voice and love and place and memory to be in the light. I have never let her speak/write first person before - today is the day.

(sensitive material)............

"I wanted Dennis to save me from him. I hated how he smelled of that English leather and cigarettes. his skin was dark and big hands, his blue shirt hung down and i felt him push on me. i threw up after, and i walked home bare foot. i washed him off me. me and Dennis made it together in a way even though we faced him alone except that one time he made Dennis stay. i felt worse of that time. Dennis went away after the summer - i missed him so much. "

Annie is amazingly strong - she is my greatest source of strength for all she survived. She is me and I am her, we are one. I hid her for years believing I could not face my truths - it was in facing my truths that I was strengthened and freed. It took 25 years and then the priest(s). Oh the betrayal - I still feel him recreating the original abuse, claiming Jesus was guiding him to save me and I remember and feel the back of his hand across my face. It is a forever sting, forever.........

and so October is when I honor some of my past as it is a part of me. I don't run from truth any more - I live in it all. From MS to childhood abuse to betrayal by Roman Catholic clergy and so too I revel in the truth of my love with Skipp, our peaceful home, nature, my blessed Mom, my children, friends and our dog Gracie-Blue. All have merit, purpose and reason. To rid myself of any part of that which is me is to destroy my design - not happening. My design, the fabric of my life is made up of many squares each colored with its own unique experience and all connected and integrated. I am whole.

The squares and design of October are in the forefront right now as I remember, feel, smell, see, know, believe and stand firm. Later, I can surrender in to sweet drifting as the time to remember slips away in to my body and mind and spirit. The miracle of healing and freedom and empowerment is that I am in charge and I choose "it" so to stay true to myself, always.