Hey Kid

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Screen Shot 2018-10-12 at 4.24.43 PMHEY Kid..yeah I am talking to you ..yes you that cute little girl with the orange turtleneck and FABULOUS 1970s plaid jacket. I heard yesterday was the international Day of the Girl and inspired by a friend’s Facebook post I thought I would have a long overdue talk with you.

I am so sorry I never took care of you. I remember taking this picture, I remember despising this outfit, the fact that mommy cut my hair, that I was so too tiny to stand up in the class picture and sitting forward so my feet would touch the ground..I remember feeling ugly and out of sorts. That feeling of being ugly, not good enough and just out of place is something that haunts us going forward, after a while it is easier to just give in to those feelings and accept them as your truth..we end up being able to see the good in everyone but ourselves and I do and I don’t know if the happened all at once or slowly over time..but it happened. SO today I want you to hear me loud and clear…You are so adorable, you matter, you are unique with your own rhythms and vibes ..hold on to that. Dream big, don’t settle ..most importantly don’t let others opinions shape your vision of you.

Believe it or not we are exactly 6 months away from turning FIFTY! I know you think fifty is old and it seems like that age is so far away it will never happen ..trust me I still am holding my breath waiting for the day to arrive. I still can’t believe I made it to forty nine. In case you are wondering..A lot has happened to us in the days weeks, months and years since taking this picture ..a lot of things we have absolutely no control over ..and then there are the things I regret and the things that make me feel like somehow I failed you/me..I am now a mommy and I have daughters who are beautiful, talented, and so so very loved.

Mommy leaves us right after this picture is taken..she threatens to swallow pills ..and tells us where to go in case she does not wake up..and we don’t understand what that means ..but we know we want to get away. We have to live with Auntie Helen for a while and even though we love it there and she makes us feel warm, safe and loved ..we know we are kind of on the outside ..and yet we know we want to stay. Mommy eventually comes to stay with us there and we go home with her..but in so many ways she is gone and she is different.

School it turns out is complicated by court ordered bussing in Boston when we are about to enter kindergarten and so we are sent to Catholic School, but not the one close to where we live..we go to the one that is a longer walk and we never fit in. School is miserable until the eighth grade and even though we are doing well academically..no one supports us and tells us just how important all of it is. In high school..we find our tribe. The friends we make change our life for the better…and just so you know ..they are the ones who are our rock and are still here even at almost 50..

Things get super complicated just before we turn 16, mom it turns out has lung cancer. A funny thing about that..we are in that pain in the ass phase of being a teenager and we hate everyone…mom tells us that if she dies no one wants us and we think she is a psycho..turns out she is right because when she gets sick in March we are told it is our fault she got sick..that little tidbit gets debunked ..but emotionally it stays with us even now. Mom dies in July, 58 days after her 49th birthday and the floor drops out from beneath us.

Little girl, I kept your love of books, and I still love words..turns out our dad was the same way. I tried to connect with our sister Kate but she refuses to have anything to do with us for reasons she will not share..our dad was the man who called in the middle of the night and woke us up..I wish we were deeper sleepers ..I still don’t sleep in case you are wondering…I wish we never heard the things mommy said to him, especially the things about us. It took me a long time to understand the things she said were because she was hurting and people who are hurting will hurt others to feel better. The things she said though ..they hurt then and they hurt now. FYI..dad comes to see us once, we get so excited but that is all..we write to him and to Kate and never hear back..he died the year we are 40 and thanks to some research and help from DNA science (something that will fascinate us in both biology and chemistry classes YEARS before it is available for anyone who wishes to find out if they are really Native American or it is just a family myth) we find out the truth about who dad was/is and that his death was the result of Alzheimer’s disease..and that scares the crap out of me. Turns out not only do we look a lot like him..but thanks to stories shared on him memorial page of his obituary..we find out we are a lot like him..it is enlightening and unnerving all at the same time. He was a coward all the way to the end and kept us a dirty little secret.

I want you to know I tried to do right by you..but I also had to do right by the older me and dodge a lot of curve balls. Do you remember all the things you wanted and wanted to do and never got the chance? Things like tap and ballet lessons.. A mom who shows up for your special events..Having your own room.. Living anywhere but in the projects…not having to shake your bag for roaches every day… Having a subscription to Highlights Magazine..you know one where you could do the puzzles and the connect the dots.. being able to buy books when the Scholastic book fair comes to school…wearing clothes that are not hand me downs…having friends to play with in the neighborhood…have a daddy…have a sister..take a vacation..Go to Disney World..having someone tell you how amazing you are?   Well when our kids are born we did all that for them…or at least we tried to be everything they need us to be for them. I gotta tell you Being a mom is harder than playing with those beautiful baby dolls that Auntie Helen gives you ..being a mom does not come naturally and we are so scared that we will make the same mistakes mommy made ..but we make it somehow and the kids are doing alright. Before I forget to tell you.. you will discover that dog’s are not scary ..despite that scary doberman that chases you on Sumner St and tries to attack you..we just got a new puppy ..a really cute French Bulldog that we named Dottie ..we also have 2 other doggies and we have had cats , hamsters, fish and guniea pigs ..but dogs are our favorite

We spend a lot of time running away and feeling we don’t belong even in our own skin..but we are 6 months away from 50..we outlived mommy ..and it is time to come home. So kid, I am back and I remember .. I want to give you a hug and celebrate your spunky spirit and let you know it’s ok to get away .. but I also want to remind you it’s ok to come home ..all I ask is don’t leave me kid ..we need each other ..we have another 50 .5 years ahead of us..and those kids of ours need us… xo xo

Dot Girl The Sequel

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A happy little announcement …exactly four weeks ago my family was blessed with a new addition. As a result…we are tired, not sleeping, there is quite a bit of jealousy going on with the other littles..however we are so in love and would not change a blessed thing. This was not something we were expecting.. but what a little blessing…That’s right we got a new puppy. Oh and she is not just any puppy ..she is this gorgeous 12 week old (as of today) French Bulldog who has brindle coloring, soft fur, stinky puppy breath, makes all kinds of adorable noises,  is smart as a whip and miss thang has an attitude..yeah I am SMITTEN. A few of her  favorite things.. chasing fish in the river near the beach, meeting new people, playing with other dogs and eating. We named her Dottie..my little Dot girl.

I think it is safe to say the humans in our circle of family and friends are OBSESSED and in love…the dogs ..well …yeah not so much. We brought Dottie into a home where 2 very adorable but bossy 9 year old Maltese dogs thought they ruled the roost until this little meatball showed up with her squishy face and super chill manner and they were having NONE of that nonsense. The first night Dottie spent here involved me sleeping on an air mattress in the mudroom(with only a puppy and Netflix to keep me company)  with not only a gate up to keep the bosses away from the puppy but also with the door closed because my male dog lost his everlasting mind the second that puppy set foot in his house. I knew we faced a rough transition ..but damn puppies you could have done your momma a solid and just pretended to get along for like say 5 minutes…but NO.

Anyone who knows our other dogs can testify that they are cute, friendly, attention whores who are completely unruly when they want, you step inside my house to visit them and nothing else .. They were trained believe it or not however…they jump on people when they enter the house and bark at a fart in the wind ..but they are too darn cute for their own good and that my friends is the root of all the dog related problems in this house. On a more serious note ..they can get away with whatever they want because the fact is when I was first diagnosed with all of my health problems 4.5 years ago..those 2 nuggets barely left my side, doing their best to take care of me and if that is not unconditional love I don’t know what is…. Now back to our currently reality…Dottie’s arrival has changed the dynamic in this house in so many ways…those cute pups are suddenly acting like a grumpy old couple trying to get the kids off their lawn and the puppy is like wait..what do you mean they don’t like me? Have they seen me? Me with my squishy face and cute snorts ..those 2 fools are crazy! EVERYBODY LOVES ME..well everybody except Toby and Tessie. Oh and Dottie is shaping up to be Fearless Leader in this house..her BFF at puppy kindergarten is a 10 week old German Shepherd and she owns him like the boss baby she is..Toby and Tessie need to put this kid in her place.

There are definitely moments when the HBIC and her sidekick Toby are tolerating Dottie ..usually food..(ok treats) is involved or the puppy is in her crate with a special something keeping her occupied ..and still there has been an occasion when Toby has allowed Dot to sleep next to him on my bed ..but that’s it..oh wait and when they hear the mailman or the UPS truck ..they all stick their noses into the glass on the screen door like the cute little pack I know they are …I’m getting verklemped.

Not everything has been smooth sailing…Today was a rough day .. Tessie the wonder dog, the HBIC of not only the pack but also the house has been under the weather and I gotta admit I am scared. I suddenly realize she is just about 10 years old in a few weeks, and she is starting to show her age with aches and pains that really bother her now and this puppy is on her last nerve. This morning she was acting funny and  today she barely moved at all…Today my girl whimpered when we or the puppy came near her. Today, Tessie slept the day away, not eating until I hand fed her, and drinking water only occasionally..today her tail barely wagged and that tail is a wind machine with a mind of its own..I don’t know want to think anything is wrong with that precious creature because the thought of her hurting is really more than I can handle.  Fate brought Tessie (named after the Dropkick Murphy’s song BTW) to us and I want her around and healthy for many more years..Our Tessie came to us with a story and I don’t think she minds us sharing..

We brought Tessie home 9.5 years ago..I found a breeder who had Maltese puppies for sale within driving range of our home. A few months before this,  we lost our 8 year old cocker spaniel Murphy to a brain tumor and getting a new dog was an emotional experience. we decided on a Maltese after a lot of research and having a breeder so close to home was a bonus. Tessie it turns out was not a new 8 week old puppy ..but rather about 6 months old and she had a past. Three families took her home previous to us ..and their reasons for returning the puppy included 1 family just did not like her..we were warned she was nasty and nippy and I was willing to take the chance. The breeder brought her to me…So much for a nasty and nippy puppy..this little girl crawled into my lap, snuggled in the crook of my neck and licked my face..it’s been a love fest ever since that day…Tessie is a shy and sweet little girl with a big mouth who bosses Toby around and keeps me on my toes..and she is not about Dottie one bit ..except she kind of digs Dottie’s puppy food and treats and has a strict 10% off the top policy whether Dottie agrees or not (and lately Dottie does not agree..girl is 12 weeks old and already 2 lbs heavier than Tessie and the same height..I smell trouble..wait just a Dottie fart)

Now on the other hand Toby.. when we met Toby, he  was all by himself in a crate looking as ridiculous as one puppy could look with goofy eyes, a crooked grin and was he ever sweet. Turns out he had been passed over by everyone looking at the puppies…he was also a bargain so we took him too..BEST decision I ever made. Toby is the most loyal, obnoxious and adorable dog who also happened to be an evil genius and I love everything about him…except that he tried to kill Dottie when we first got her (thank goodness he has had multiple teeth removed which renders his bite rough but not lethal)  he is such a good boy and today he was right by Tessie’s side making sure she was OK .

Then there is the puppy…oh miss Dot ..what a smart little creature she is. this puppy learned to sit, the touch game and how to come all in less than 2 hours ..Toby has yet to figure out any of those commands..and quite frankly he could give a shit less if he ever does. She is not a barker like the other 2, but she will tell you off when she has had enough ..she is excellent about going potty outside, she is very social and she thinks she is a German Shepherd ..she also can maim small animals every time she toots ..oh and she adores Toby and Tessie..we definitely have our work cut out for us..This is our Dottie ..wish us luck…and keep our Tessie in your thoughtsScreen Shot 2018-10-08 at 12.40.00 AM

 

A darker voice rises up

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Everything I read about starting a blog and getting it noticed says that in order to be read   you need direction and a clear focus..two things I lack. There are 31 unfinished posts in queue here ..some are topics that lingered in my thoughts ..others insomnia fueled rants that lack coherency along with lacking vision or polish. I struggle often to find the courage to express the inner thoughts and feelings about all the subjects I find important. Just like every “good” girl ..I worry that my opinions will offend those whom I love and admire as well as those I do not know..I also worry about putting myself “out there” for the world to see and judge. The subject matter here on my site ..while I can get kind of deep …ok maybe not deep but a place hovering between profound and shallow ..remains somewhat guarded ..not too many politics ..until now.

Every day I log on to the world as I know it..Facebook, Instagram ..local news and the status of my country and the world is there for all to see..and along with that status is someone’s opinion regarding the ever changing hot topic of the minute. I sit back and observe how people I know and have known for years view the world ..and at times it is rather unsettling to see how no one can see beyond their echo chamber these days. Not many are interested to hear that there are multiple sides to everything and what is being presented to all of us is being skewed by powerful sources whose goal is to divide and conquer..and they are succeeding. Whatever your stance, I want to tell you all that it’s ok to debate ..it’s actually healthy to debate ..but don’t dig your heels in so deep that you can only hear and not actually listen to what others are trying to say to you. Another thing.. everyone stop resorting to the childish name calling, sometimes, someone with an opposite belief than yours can actually have a valid point and is not a “libtard” or “trumpturd” or a snowflake etc..

Now that we have that out of the way..I have something to say..for every woman defending the nomination of Judge Kavanaugh and dismissing Dr Ford because ..let me list the reasons I have seen….there is no proof, she is trying to ruin his reputation, she is a hired gun of the liberal snowflakes,  she is doing this for money… people arguing what about him …I ask you what about her? WHY do you automatically assume he is innocent? Is he more important simply because he is a man? Is he more important because he is a republican and his appointment to the court comes with the possibility of overturning ROE? Ask yourselves ..what about her…what about every woman who has lived through the years and years of not being believed, of having to go to work, to school..to go home to a man or men who assault her sexually.  what about the women and men who have suffered sexual assault and live with its trauma in silence for years? why is sexual assault an underreported crime..because everyone says she is a liar, she brought this on herself, she wants to ruin his reputation etc..the burden of proof is upon the victim and the victim is often treated like the perpetrator. Is it alright that men can put their hands wherever they want on a woman because she is dressed a certain way or she is well endowed? Is it alright that we as women put up with unwanted advances and are threatened with the security of our jobs, our relationships and our self worth after a man harasses us sexually all because the possibility of speaking out will ruin his reputation and disturb his family? I would hope that in this day and age the answer is no.

What about him? “Him” can be any man or woman we know…think about how well you really know even your closest friends. A person can be wonderful at their job and the darling of everyone’s eye ..and yet behind closed doors he/she could abuse their spouse, be an addict , beat their children, be a child porn addict, you do not know ..just because someone portrays an image to the world ..it does not mean we know them …just because they share your political beliefs,..it does not mean they are right for the country…just because someone says they did not do a bad thing does not mean they are innocent ..but nor does it mean they are guilty. Sexual assault can not be blown off as a boys will be boys..there are two sides to every story and how the person on the receiving end of your actions perceives what happened often times varies greatly from the story you keep. I have 2 examples ..

The summer before I started high school, I hung around with 2 friends of mine from my neighborhood. I was not a boy crazy girl, I was not disinterested in boys…but I was definitely not ready for anything more than the occasional slow dance at the church dances with a couple of mean old nuns as chaperones looking on . Just before we went back to school, I was talking with my friends and 2 brothers whom we all knew since we were young and as I was walking home everyone took off and 1 of the brothers was behind..I really did not think much of him, he was just there ..he was nice and I was friendly but that was about all I was interested in. He stopped to talk to me and before I could make my way around him..his tongue was down my throat and I was horrified…my first kiss was gross and with someone I had zero interest in other than to say hi. I found myself apologizing and making excuses to make him feel better ..WTAF? Inside I felt gross and I felt violated..he took away my choice, he took away my control of when my first kiss experience would be..while not sexual assault in any way shape or form..when I told my friend she said I had nothing to complain about ..I was there alone with him on a sidewalk..somehow it was my fault for simply being there..that attitude is prevalent to this day and that makes me sick. The young man thankfully realized I was not interested and I never heard him say anything awful about me..but I got a reputation as one of those ICNAB girls (Irish Catholic no action broad) something I am proud of now..but then I did not understand it was a good thing..but also bad because the boys when I became a little more interested were not about me.

My mother was caught up in the sexual politics of her time..her relationship with my father was something more of nightmares and horror stories vs fairy tales and romance…and she too worried about a man’s reputation vs her own worth.

I met my father once that I can recall. To hear my mother speak of him when she was alive..he was satan on earth..to read the stories left on the tribute page of his obituary ..he was a good man who happened to be flawed, funny, loyal and brilliant..to me he is all those things. To his family he was a husband, a father and a provider..he was a friend, a son and a brilliant attorney ..he harbored a secret and until very recently ..my mother had no proof, there was no way to prove I was his daughter or he even had a relationship with my mother..she was just a woman in the eyes of many looking to destroy a family and take a man’s reputation away from him just to be cruel. I was 45 years old before I could take a DNA test that eventually proved he is my father ..too late to meet him as an adult since he passed away..but the satisfaction of proving (finally) the truth was bittersweet ..I still carry the stigma of their sin and the burden of proof was always upon me to be right.

My mother discovered she was pregnant with me about 50 years ago around this time .. I don’t know how he took the news (she often mentioned he wanted her to abort the pregnancy ..it was illegal at the time)  nor do I know how she took the news..she never talked much about that ..but one of my aunts told me that my mother considered calling and telling my father’s wife about my impending arrival and explained  they talked my mother out of that ..because if she called Carol and informed her that I was on the way, my mother would ruin his life.  Ruin HIS life..I just can’t with this..at that point it was no longer about them ..it was about me and instead they had no problem with making my life difficult to save him from a little embarrassing situation (that he was responsible for as equally as my mother was)

Think about that for a minute..yes I know things were different in those days..but isn’t all the work that women have done in the days since then supposed to have brought us to a place where we say it’s NOT OK to use and abuse women? Are we not supposed to be at a place where we as women and men can say NO and it means NO? If a man is assaulted we never question his motives My father willingly went outside of his marriage to seek sex and who knows what else..in the process he created chaos in his life ..however the prevailing attitude was my mother got what she deserved for being with someone she had no business being with ..but what about my father? He got off scot free, he got to go back to his life, have a wonderful career, be the boastful father to my sister (at least publicly I did not know them personally) the husband to his wife (my stepmother?) his reputation remained in tact and I remained the dirty little secret ..what choice did my mother or I have?

we have a man to be confirmed to the Supreme Court for a life long term who has to ability to be the swing vote on issues that affect all of our lives for years to come. This man was not on trial but at a job interview ..he works for all of us, not just the republicans, not just the  evangelical Christians, not against the democrats (for whom he showed utter disdain for while under questioning) not just  for the president ..he works for ALL of us and if we are supporting a man and rallying against his accuser because it will soil his reputation ..think again. You don’t want someone in one of the most prominent positions of power in this country rushed through the nomination process simply because he echoes your beliefs..he should be there because he is the right man, with the right temperament for the job..someone who will work for all of us and someone who gets to decide upon cases such as women’s rights, healthcare, voting issues, immigration and any other hot topic you can think of should not be in that life long position of power simply because he will work for a fraction of the country ..he is supposed to be in a position to check and balance not only the congress but also the president whether that president is a friend of his or not. My father was a lawyer ..I am glad he was never a judge

In the end I have decided I do not care if I have offended anyone with this post..I am horrified as a woman that so many women I know can’t see that what is going on right now is scary ..that women don’t have to support policies they do not agree with on many levels …but you should support women’s rights..you should support all sides of a story being investigated, you shouldn’t support someone who could limit your daughters or granddaughters from receiving the same advantages you have enjoyed as a woman because the women who come before us worked so hard to obtain for us. we deserve equal pay for equal work, we deserve the freedom to make our own choices for our own lives and not have men limit our access to healthcare, bank accounts etc..

Complaining 101

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Not cool WordPress …so not not cool. Five minutes ago I had this angry AF post detailing all the bullshit and negativity currently occupying space in my entire being and then a message from WordPress telling me the draft failed to save..in the process of trying to copy and paste ..and POOF all my pessimistic bitching vanished. Let’s face it a little glitch never stopped me from bitching before and it’s not going to stop me now ..I ‘m just pissed I can’t remember what I typed..it was a doozie…at least I think it was.

So let me insert a little disclaimer here in case anyone reading this (oh I do crack myself up some days)  is butt hurt or offended because I am annoyed and over sharing with the world..you cope your way and I will cope mine..and YES I have a therapist ..ANYWHO ..I am well aware that I am not woke..that my bitching is nothing more than entitled, first world issues that will not bring about world peace or a cure for cancer .but sometimes a girl just has to take the lid off the pot and let the bullshit steam fly.  So here goes nothing…

Did I mention I just got home from an epic adventure to Italy and France? Well..truth is I needed an excuse to run away from life for just a little while and what better places to get lost than Italy and France?? One of my awesome kids also happened to be doing a summer semester in Florence ..the rest is history because there was no way that kid as much as I love and adore them was going to Italy and I was staying home. And yeah if you can do it GO to Italy ..the food..the wine ..the sexy accents ..the beaches ..oh and in case you are wondering they have these AMAZEBALLS historical sites and architecture that will make you think why don’t we build stuff like this..I was in Venice in a hotel that was built in the 1600s ..new by Italian /Ventian standards and the thing is still standing ..I know people who built houses 10 years ago and the damn things are falling apart…just a quick word of advice don’t be vain like I can be and wear Spanx to the airport..especially one with a full body scanner or else risk being molested by a pissed off TSA agent in front of hundreds of travelers..true story…did I get off track?

By the way before I go farther with this…I GET how snotty and entitled this post is ..I understand that not everyone is so blessed to find themselves able to not only run away from their life for a little while  but also to a place like Italy..However… if you knew me, you would know that once upon a time I dreamed that hopefully one day I would be able to make it to New York City from Boston or maybe past  the East Coast of The US, Italy was a place we studied in a book not a place I knew I could see or travel to ..never once did I imagine hard work and sacrifice paid off to this degree..I am blessed and I know it.

So back to my rant…You can only escape life for so long before reality comes knocking on the door…waiting for me when I arrived home were the same concerns about one of my children, the same question marks regarding my health and the same disappointments lingering for how long I don’t know and the same people who irritate the living daylights out of me and I am working on dealing with..I do try but I have recently been on prednisone and that shit makes me one angry individual and EVERYTHING is a problem or the existing problem is really exacerbated  ..I want to think I have this post vacation hangover that continues persisting and the root of this rawness is jet lag..but yeah NO.  In another thought it is quite possible I am just bitter over the fact my adventure ended and I came home to my life…or it could just be I am an asshole. (psst I am an asshole)

I have a laundry list of things offending my general sense of happiness at the moment..some are beyond trivial and petty..others ..well others involve injustices I can not control. Shall I lay out a few? I don’t expect anyone to actually read this post so I will start with the most trivial and over share in leaps and bounds..

Raise your hand if you see that person on social media whose comments and posts have to ability to simultaneously annoy the living crap out of you and amuse you in a rather demented way…just me? So here’s the thing ..one of my relatives has an ex who seems incapable of realizing the divorce happened in the 8-10 years ago time frame. Now I can get mourning the loss of relationships but eventually ..it is time to move on. These 2 did not have kids of their own ..however 1 came to the relationship with children (and how they got custody was probably more of a lesser of 2 evils situation) and the other developed a bond with the kids and that I will not fault them for..the rest of the situation is one of those that you file under shit I can’t make up..like a most recent comment on a facebook post regarding a possible family reunion ..”I am no longer a (insert last name) by marriage but I am still a (insert last name) in my heart”..no honey it is time to move on..move out and let it go. This person is a stage 5 clinger ..it dawned on me tonight ..hence the update to this post ..that the lyrics to Drake’s “In My Feelings” describe this person’s  comments on just about every FB post my relatives make …”Kiki do you love me …are we riding? Say you’ll never leave from beside me…Cause I want ya and I need ya and I ‘m down for you always”…this mixed in with their constantly reminding people that they are friends, that they have a relationship with people..that they love them and the stupid fucking emojis at the end..are we 13?  Oh and the need to point out how much they meant to their ex  mother in law (my aunt by the way) ..it’s all about centering the attention on them (and seriously I can pass on the names of a few good therapists) Oh This was a good one…They actually got into a pissing match with the current spouse of their ex when my aunt passed away..on the online guest/condolence book ..like who does that?? It was both comical and horrifying (although I admit I took a page from their book and wrote and anonymous message on my father’s online obituary page and outed his affair with my mother and how he abandoned me..but it was like 8 years after he died..and I did it out of spite) I hope their relationship with my aunt improved over the years..because  my aunt and I used to talk occasionally  before we stopped liking each other and my aunt would tell me just to ignore this person because they were the most annoying and needy person in the house…  I will not fault them for being angry with their ex..but the truth is they brought another person into their home to stay and my relative is not shall we say the most emotionally stable person..and well take a gander at what caused the break up??? Sucks ..and yeah they did not deserve to be cheated on but then again in addition to being a cling -on this person is not the crunchiest chip in the bag. However what bugs me the most lately..they seem to think that they won the family in the divorce ..a clue there Sherlock..my family is really not the prize at the bottom of the Cracker Jack box..oh I am full of cliches tonight..I feel like Seth Meyers doing Ya Burnt…Needy ex spouses who can’t accept they don’t belong in the family anymore ..move on YA BURNT

Let’s move on shall we? This same family that humors the cling on ..has a few more secrets lurking in the hole ..like a super secret relative who tested on ancestry DNA ..DNA DOES NOT LIE ..anywho these people seem to know already about the existence of said relative and refuse to have anything to do with them..supposedly they need permission from the absentee parent to actually make contact with this person ..yeah no you do not…IF it is completely acceptable to keep the above mentioned cling on in their lives..allow the children who belong to absentee parent’s sister in law to call them cousin/auntie/nana and yet their own cousin/niece/nephew/grandchild grew up 3 freaking streets away from us in the same freaking neighborhood and no one had anything to do with them (and give presents etc to non relatives who called them nana etc)  and still refuse to have anything to do with them..well I hate to inform you people that you all need to be ashamed of yourselves ..that was a total dick move collectively..By the way  this person is rather well adjusted and doing just fine without you …but like me they know what it feels like to feel the bitter rejection from their family (thank you to my dad and now my sister for that ongoing reason to stay in therapy) and ket me ask this.. why am I the only one who reached to this person?Why am I the one who was willing to go visit them and meet their AWESOME family? It really should not be me ..but you know what people in the end I win because this person and I connected from moment one and I don’t care who their mother/father is I just know they are my family..you know like really my family ..and we bonded over more than just our common circumstances ..I look forward to a lifetime of them in mine and my family’s lives …and you should too because this person IS your family

And finally …the last one I am going to stop over sharing because I realize I would be a Toal passive/aggressive cow for sharing that story ..but the last person I hope they know that they are someone I totally love and cherish and at the same time they are really under my skin at the moment and I want to scream cut the fucking shit but I won’t..stop the fucking games  ..even my therapist is like yeah that is some fucked up shit ..so I know it is not just me but still I will stop before this becomes a total rant

I am going to end this on a more positive note ..it has been a fun weekend ..Friday night the hubs and I met up with an old friend and their spouse for drinks and apps..I even scored some coveted concert tickets in the process …last night we saw other friends for dinner and got to have my nana’s lemon squares..and today we went to a Christening and yeah I got to hold the babies ..we have a busy week ahead and I am kind of hoping we get to see one of my favorite little people for an adventure in the next couple of days ..oh and I am living vicariously through vacation photos of one of my dearest friends and her sisters (who are also my friends) and watching another good friend accomplish an amazing feat while raising money for cancer research..and today I got a Yeti..I put ice in it on this 90 degree evening and it is still in there..my friends will know what I am talking about… know I am surrounded in love and sunshine but those negatives do need to escape

ok end rant and damn this was a long one

Another Date on the Calendar

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I am having one of those moments when in my head I know exactly what I want to say, however when it comes to actually transcribing from thought to “paper” ..the words are for lack of a better cliche ..lost in translation. I hate that feeling when I know I have to say something ..anything and the words that come out of my mouth or my fingers sound nothing like the perfectly (IMHO) constructed sentences composed in my head ..this is one of those moments ..So here goes nothing…

Time undoubtedly marches forward at a pace we cannot control ..days come and go with a marked predictability and a fair warning of what lies ahead for anniversaries or dates with a significant meaning to us. Madeline’s birthday is today..if she lived, there would be 81 candles on her cake and a life map I could look at and determine what alternate routes I need to take and/or avoid. We never got there..49 was the last birthday she saw. Madeline’s forty ninth birthday I vaguely remember ..I was busy being 16..I was busy thinking about the upcoming prom I was attending, about my biology project that was due sooner vs later, about the vital nonsense in my teenaged life ..including why my ex boyfriend was still flirting with me when he left me for that other girl , the one who he was head over heels in lust with, who he met at a party the night before I left for a school trip ..(just a side note ..that ex boyfriend is now my husband..he had to get that train wreck out of his system before dealing with this one)  This was important shit in the life of a sixteen year old girl.  I did not want to think about the fact that we were no longer living on our own..our apartment was vacated, we were living with family that were dealing with their own perspective on losing a loved one..the baby sister of the family and took over and shut me out, expecting me to fall in line and act as if all was well. The whole situation was a recipe for disaster..and eventually it just festered and bubbled up until our relationship collapsed and never really recovered.

I look back at those day  and what goes through my mind is I knew the end of Madeline’s life was close but I was trying to avoid it at all costs..which is something pretty typical for a teen.  To admit your mother..your only parent is going to die and you are not exactly sad ..you are definitely angry ..and you are totally powerless is something way above the pay scale of the average teen …but to be in that place and with people who don’t know how to process their own feelings all I can say is UGH.

Fast forward to 2018 and I am moping around like this came at me out the blue..I hate to break it to myself but the writing was on the wall, written in the sky and showing up in the foggy mirror after a shower.Truth is there was warning..I have known these dates for YEARS. Each passing day chipped away at the amount of time I had to deal with them  like a slow drip in a faucet. The dates and their significance were easy to ignore when there were awesome distractions such as work and babies, then toddlers and at some point a full blown schedule of school, activities, jobs and life ..eventually all that slowed down..1 child got her license and then went off to college..and the rest have followed suit..I was not needed  as much and everything I ignored came bubbling to the surface..life has a funny way of doing that to us…catching us off guard and surprising us by what has been in our faces all along. Then …well then I got sick and the world really came to a slow pause forcing me to face the grief at last.

I realize Today I am 37 days past turning 49 … and feel as though I am truly on the road with no guidance…and yet I have to navigate all these dates that are clumped together in a relatively short amount of time…today is the second of 4 that will wrap up on July 15. Today I am once again  gobsmacked by a multitude of feelings..I feel angry, sad, overwhelmed and nostalgic for what never was and should have been.

The past few moths have felt like getting on the Amtrak in Boston thinking I had a ticket on the Acela Express and realizing I am on the Northeast Regional to NYC..it has been slow moving at times, fast at others, pulling in to every station just long enough to ask myself how many more times do we have to do this? There are 2 dates to get through ..June 10 when I am 59 days past my forty ninth birthday (that makes me +1 day past how long Madeline lived) and July 15 ..the anniversary of the day she died ..I can get through this. I am already.

 

 

Deep Breaths

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Deep Breath…my birthday is exactly 28 days away. In 4 weeks I turn 49 and yeah SH** just got real for me. I started this post hours ago ..I do not really need to write it ..but then again I kind of do..time is marching forward and there is nothing I can do to slow its progress or halt that day from coming. The clock keeps ticking and nothing is making much sense. All I can do is breathe and lean in to what is coming.

I keep trying to analyze what exactly all of this means . I have come to the conclusions that On the surface, it is just another birthday ..it is just a date on the calendar that passes once every 365 days, special to me and the others who share this date as their birthday or anniversary but nothing special to the universe. Including the day I was born I have had 49  birthdays .but deep down  I am aware this one is different. This year I am 49 ..I am the same age my mother turned not long before she died. This age, this date has loomed over my head for almost 33 years since I was 16.  When I was 16 ..49 was old..49 was a long time away..49 was abstract.  49 is now 28 days away and I am not ready.

I want to go back 10 years..I want to go back and appreciate the little things .. I want to go back 32 years and I want to take a picture of my mother so I can remember what she looks like before the chemotherapy took away her hair and made her scent change to this rancid chemical smell I can’t forget.  I want to go back and  record her voice so I remember what it sounds like..I want her to take a good look and remember me, I want to hope that she took me with her. I am in the real of what happened ..I don’t know where it goes from here. I want my children to have a tangible record of their grandmother vs her being this abstract person like an undeveloped character in a book they know well but don;t really relate to at all. I want them to understand where they come from..I want to understand where I come from. I know precious few things about who my mother was other than the superficial nuggets I was privy to ..I was her daughter and she shut me out even at the end. I am not sure if she loved me more than anyone else in her life ..I never had the chance to ask her ..when she received her diagnosis I barely had time to catch my breath and understand what was happening and then she was gone..and I was alone.

I have no idea of what aging looks like on the other side of 49. I don’t have that model for what life looks like going forward..when my hair will turn gray or white (it already has started but unlike my mother I am fighting it with every weapon in my arsenal) I don’t know what illnesses or joys are ahead..This birthday..this year is complicated ..the reality is overwhelming. I am realizing all I have missed having been on my own for 32 ..almost 33 years … my wedding dress was something chosen all on my own, my wedding day when a familiar stranger walked me down the aisle ..my babies born and no one to ask was I like this? What do I do? I figured it out on my own and I am not sure IF my mother were alive things would have been different…I just know all of that was taken from me..

My birthday is 4 weeks away..as far as I know I am rather different than my mother ..but I will keep breathing deep until June 10..and I will hold my breath until July 15 ..this is a tough year ..but I am a tough girl and I will get through this ..but I am going to admit right now …I miss my mom

DREAMY EPISODES

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WARNING VERY DISJOINTED POST AHEAD THAT MAKES ZERO SENSE

Normally I do not recall my dreams,  I know I have them, but the details rarely seem to matter or stay with me long after I rise and shine. There are exceptions to the rule.  I can recall having vivid dreams where I am with loved ones who have long since passed away and trying not to wake up so I have just a minute more with them and  worse yet.. waking up feeling haunted and perplexed as to what that all meant. I am not sure if I truly believe that there is much meaning hidden in our dreams, but that does not stop me from trying to make something out of it (kind of like this post) ..however once again I am perplexed by a dreamy episode experience. In the wee hours of last night into this morning I had a dream about my sister Kate. The details of my dream are more fuzzy than not but what I remember was we were having a conversation. You know the polite, rather sterile type of  conversation people have when one participant feels uncomfortable around the other or feels forced to share a space with someone who makes your skin crawl. It’s possible thanks to her loving rejections I am projecting how she feels even in my dreams..who knows. I won;t say who cares ..because obviously I do to sit here and write this post.

 

A little about this dreamy  drama…What I recall  is I was in her kitchen..now allow me to assure you I have absolutely no idea what the inside of my sister’s house looks like (or what her voice sounds like for that matter)  but this was a dream and so maybe the kitchen was the place I needed to be since we all consider it the proverbial heart of the home, the place where people typically gather. A little side note..this may be a learned behavior on my part because  my aunt H used to contain visits from my mother and her other sisters to her kitchen when the aunts visited H’s home .. any way…the kitchen is a safe zone and I am wondering if  the kitchen symbolically represented my need to be in a safe place when it comes to my sister. In my dream, Kate’s kitchen was not modern and looked like it was a mash up of the kitchens of everyone I ever knew growing up had (you know wood looking cabinets, formica counter tops, and a bright linoleum floor, white appliances)  . The feeling I got was I was not exactly welcome  but was being obliged grudgingly (sort of like the visits my mother and aunts made to my auntie’s house)  SO  there I was in a place that is very strange and oddly familiar straining to talk to someone I don’t know but is related to me… At some point she was no longer there with me.  I stood there cleaning, redecorating and putting my stamp on her space and trying not to let her know I was still there, feeling like I overstayed my welcome and not wanting to leave all at the same time. So much of this experience is obscure but the last thing I recall is picking up paint cans (but was not painting lol), pulling off tarps and hiding the evidence of my intrusion by stuffing trash cans while a voice said “she is going to be pissed” . I woke up feeling haunted and unsettled.

Facebook has a strange way of having random people (at last I think it is random) show up as suggested friends ..my sister showed up recently. FB probably knows I stalked her before or  maybe she looked at my profile..we are both pretty locked down and all one can see is our profile and cover pictures that we post and are public. I clicked her name and she posted a new profile picture . We both wear glasses..something not unheard of since we are both well over 40 (she is well over 50) but damn it we wear almost identical frames..that is actually kind of freaky to me. I could not resist and I read the comments left by friends of hers and a family member of ours ..a cousin I do not know…one comment was left that is public and the person  said Kate’s eyes look sad..the picture was taken/posted just before our dad’s 8th anniversary. UGH in that moment I realized another freaky coincidence..

My father died January 30, 2010. I never knew him so I do not mourn him per se ..I mourn all the things he was and was not to me. What I realized this year..and I don;t know why I did not put this together sooner…my mother in law J also died on January 30 ..19 years before my father did..but if you think oh what a sad coincidence well hold my teacup ..my mother died July 15 1986 ..what does that have to do with the topic at hand? Well let me explain because 27 years later on July 15 2013 my beloved UJ passed away. The mother and father influences in my life all passed away on the same day as one another ..ok my brain was working overtime on that thought process (have I mentioned before that i am about to turn 49 ..the same age my mother was when she died and hence I am losing my damn mind this year???)

It is no wonder I am dreaming about kate..I saw her new picture thanks to Facebook..every single time I see something like this I am reminded there is a living, breathing sibling of mine I am not allowed to know (her choice) that we have weird connections ,that we are tied together by a man who was beloved for his brilliance, charm, wit and complexity. A very flawed man whom I believe harbored some personal demons and lived in a time where society allowed men to be men with limited consequences. It is also no wonder that reading comments on her picture once again awakens the feelings of I am tired of being in the shadows..of being cast aside. I need to celebrate that I share some of my father’s quirks like loving word games (boggle was mentioned in a story a person shared on his Obit..I love Boggle) and knowing the meaning of obscure words ..he loved the NYT crossword and it seems i share his I can do that attitude (except it seems he was for more confident than I and followed through more than I allow myself to)

I woke up on January 30 and my heart was heavy realizing J left us 27 years ago, her son, my husband was at the time 23, our daughter C turned 4 weeks old 2 days before J left us. I mourn her loss for my children and my husband, for her granddaughter J, for her sister, for her nieces and nephews and for myself. J deserved time with her grandchildren..her grandchildren deserved time with J. …I went to bed on February 1 and realized I forgot about my father on that same day and I did not know how I was supposed to feel..and then I saw Kate’s picture and I realize she is still mourning the father she knew ..and I mourn the ghost father I never knew..the father I deserved to know. Oh Sister dear my heart breaks for you on so many levels ..

A Few “Fun Facts”

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According to my WordPress stats I created and published exactly 43 posts on this little site since I started oversharing my life in 2010… for about 5 people to see. In the beginning blogging was a way to cope with some life stressors like a special needs child (I have a different site dedicated to that..that I completely abandoned) and the bitter consequences of dealing with some members of my family as well as being an adult daughter with 2 dead parents who had their own set of issues . Writing was and is cathartic  so I never possessed  grandiose aspirations of my site going viral or anyone caring enough to read what I say..hence why my grammar and writing style are rather lacking. So even with the bar set low for expectations I admit  it is fun to take a peek after I publish and see if anyone actually likes a post or to see if anyone reads it and where they are from ..so here are a few fun stats:

Since January 2010 , I published 43 posts, ( probably wrote and did not finish 143 in all sincerity ) … as a result of hitting the publish button,  my site has been viewed 2562 times ..and that was by me alone…there have been 1725 visits to my site, and I would like to thank each and every one of you for stopping by , you know who you are so I won’t thank you all by name right now. Another fun fact, my best view ever was on April 21, 2016 for a post I titled “Just Another Day”  . In 2017, I published  13 posts for a total of 18,152 words..What can I  say?  I am a bit long winded. Frankly I could sit here and type something like “I never knew I had so much to say”..but let’s face it that is total bullshit. I have a lot to say …the thing is I keep it all in my head and rarely let it rip.  Then again, those who know me in the real world know I can range from rather quiet to could someone stick a gag in her mouth and shut her up because she is giving me a migraine… so my posts being long winded come as no surprise.

During the past 8 years this site has been all over the place, had its focus shifted with each post , had its name changed a time or 2 and seen a couple of major life changes on my part. I don’t think much is going to change going forward..I would love to be one of those people who can focus on a topic and stick to it..offering witty insights to let even one person know they are not alone ..but that is not who I am. Who I am is still a mystery..I do know that I see this little site as a place where we have a conversation..a one sided conversation because it happens to be ME doing all the “talking” ..well in this case emoting..but I say if you are reading along and playing the home game don’t be shy..feel free to join in on the “conversation”. Let me know what you think ..I might not agree with you all the time..and I might have a snotty conversation with my dog about you behind your back (and quite frankly he will take my side) but it would feel great to know I am not just writing to see myself write.

Now that we have that all in the open ..I am going to let you in a little bit and tell you this..actually I can’t believe I managed to publish 43 times. Truth be told, it is not a lack of content because like it or not my brain is always “on”..my mind is always going and composing posts and finding ways to tell stories from every day life..I wish I could stop it but I can’t. This is nothing new, ever since I can remember I have loved observing people, hearing their stories, reading their tales and knowing what makes them tick. I was the kid in school who really enjoyed when the teacher gave us a writing assignment even if I groaned along with the rest of my classmates.  The reality is I sit down some days and try to translate what is in my head into some form of tangible and lucid sentence structure but yeah that often does not occur. What lurks in my brain is a topic  which almost always starts off in my mind as hey that is a great idea ..maybe I should write this out..More often than not/historically when this idea strikes, or gets in my head I am in the middle of the grocery store, walking the dog, waiting outside a classroom before a parent/teacher conference, sitting at the car dealership waiting for service or in the shower amongst other totally inconvenient places and things get rather lost in translation with each second ticking away until I totally forget what I wanted to say or I talk myself out of dropping the task at hand and just writing.  If I was in the car .and by myself one would think it would be wise to have some sort of voice recorder and  in theory a recorder is  a good idea except a) it would be distracted driving b) knowing myself  I would feel compelled to stick my phone to my ear while I spoke so I did not look like a psycho, c) ideas rarely come to me when I am driving and d) and this is probably the biggest truth..the car is my personal DJ Booth, dance party and karaoke bar (minus the alcohol) I can think of ..nothing comes between me and my jams..well nothing except the occasional phone call from one of my kids wanting or needing something from me..what it this all boils down to is what stops me is  Me. I am freaking terrified about anything and everything you can think of and one of my biggest fears is the potential of being humiliated or criticized for speaking up…this is childhood baggage that I am working on ..hey I actually published 43 times ok ..I just work at a snail’s pace.

Fear and self doubt typically go hand in hand with one another and I have enough fear and even more self doubt to fill a few novels. Every single time I sit down to translate what is in my head into a post those old demons come back to haunt me ..no one wants to hear what you have to say, you are lucky you can string a few coherent sentences together..this topic has been done before and done way better than you can ever hope to do it . I know this about myself and I live with it and honestly ..the fear is crippling and it is totally irrational. So what happens ..well let me tell you what happens..what happens is there are days like today when I just can’t turn it off and the only cure is more cowbell (sorry was watching a clip of Lesley Jones for this week’s SNL ) the only cure is to allow the words to rise up and finally pour out. Hitting  the publish button is agonizing however I have a personal rule..once I publish there is no turning back, no deleting, no taking back..editing is allowed.

I have a lot to say..I have topics that I can’t seem to put away lately so maybe I can kick fear to curb and try on a scratchy brave sweater ( I say scratchy because being brave is like wearing a wool sweater..it makes me itch and want to crawl out of my skin..but it is warm as well as useful ..thing is the wool sweater it does fit just not comfortably like a soft cotton sweater I have had forever, the cotton sweater  probably has holes and is threadbare but still makes me feel safe and I will always choose safe if given the choice) and just find the inner courage to stop caring what anyone else thinks and finally take a chance..we’ll see. As I wrap up the word salad this now 44th published post is evolving into..I want to finish with a quote from this year’s Golden Globes broadcast..these words have felt rather empowering and have got me thinking ..until the next time..whenever that next time is

“the life that we present to the world that can be very different form the life we live behind closed doors”..reese witherspoon golden globes 1/7/18 time is up

Keeping the Past in the Present

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Little more than a year ago I had a little post here about my grandmother’s table..a table belonging to a grandmother I know only through the stories passed on to me by my cousins who knew her and also through the bits and pieces shared a long time ago by my mother and aunts I must add. Honestly I  was an emotional wreck in the first couple of weeks after the table’s arrival, and the more I processed why I was falling apart, the more I was falling apart.  That piece of furniture is this tangible validation that I actually do have roots and a branch on the family tree ..it is mine, it is me. I wrote about it because the table represents the past, the present and the future and it does not matter that it is not the most glorious looking piece of furniture ever created nor that it has actually seen better days..what matters is I am its caretaker for the moment.

That table still resides in my eating area off the kitchen.  Oddly enough, that table no matter how hard I look to replace it with something that would suit the space it sits in ..for the moment still feels like I have a piece of me in my home. The table is not exactly the focus of this rant..but it somewhat ties in to where I am going..so bear with me and eventually I will get there.

So just a little background noise as we move forward …..My family spent the spring and early summer of 2017 knee deep in renovations to our home.  First thing on the agenda …we gutted the kitchen and the dining area..which lead to all brand new windows, new hardwood floors, beautiful cabinets, quartz countertops,  all new professional looking appliances, all new lighting, floors sanded, walls painted ..and when it was all done the rest of the house looked ..well it looked like crap..so we painted more walls and got a new couch, purchased a few rugs at Target (let me just say this ..you can get some snazzy rugs at Home Goods And Target that have incomparable style that works with your budget..and if you have naughty dogs like I do ..if something happens on said rug..no need for a heart attack..worst case for $60 you can get another one) and ended up switching all the electrical outlets to new and clean looking white ones, putting in new light fixtures upstairs and finally cleaning up the mudroom. It is overwhelming just typing this out ..but once the ball gets rolling it is tough to stop. So many changes that once and for all erased the previous owners and at long last allowed me to finally say this is MY home. When all was said and done (for the moment)  I finally splurged and purchased matching glasses, plates, silverware (my previous set was an eclectic mishmash of 28 years of marriage and kids.. I believe  there are forks still lurking under 1 child’s bed ) and be still my beating heart…I got all new cookware..well almost all new. I still can’t decide exactly what color Le Cruset cast Iron pots I want to replace my current ones with (again the current collection while BELOVED ..is mostly a collection of whatever color was on sale at the outlet and suited my needs..the old kitchen was an eclectic mess) and one more…what this rant was intended to be about in the first place.

Before we even began the project I had to pack up the previous space ..and let me tell you 25 years worth of living got crammed into those old cabinets. Mismatched plates, mugs from pretty much every place we ever travelled..countless magnets, a Blue’s Clues Plate here and there..cups from the disbanded USFL ..pieces of my husband’s youth all in there. I sent boxes of kitchen things to Savers, gave my college aged child even more and boxed up the things I was not exactly sure what to do with. I opened up a few of the boxes last week ,5 months or so after the project finished (yes I am that lazy if I do say so myself) and inside the last box I opened was my mother in law’s well seasoned pan that she made her son chile in.

A long time ago in the early days of our marriage we lived in the beautiful dutch colonial home that belonged to my in-laws. My mother in-law J lived long enough to see her youngest son’s oldest daughter come into this world and then she left us. She left behind a house full of treasures, but we were moving away to the safety and the security of the suburbs to raise that little girl in a house half the size of J’s..so  many of her treasures were either thrown out , donated or given away sadly. My husband insisted we keep his mother’s chile pan. This ugly, heavy metal pan that is well seasoned, has no handle, is awkward to handle and was bought at a salvage type store was not part of a matching set but he wanted it.Well I think I am pretty obvious regarding how I felt about the pan. As we were packing up and deciding what to keep or get rid of  a rare moment of kindness swept me over, I did give in and we kept the pan. I recall thinking I would never use it but to make him happy and shut him up I would go along with this. So you know where this is going..what I thought was going to happen and what actually happened are 2 different versions of the same story.

At my husband’s insistence I learned to make chile ..a food I do not love ..in that pan based on the recipe J passed down to her son/my husband. For a while that pan was simply  the chile pan, residing in the back of cabinet and brought out on rare occasions.  Then I  realized I wanted to learn how to make risotto and so the heavy bottomed, round pan was not only the perfect size but also the perfect diameter. The pan became known as “your grandmother’s pan”  to the kids, even though I believe it was and is in my possession longer than hers ..somehow it still feels like I am its caretaker.

I easily could have gotten rid of this pan when we packed up the heart of our home..however this time it was actually me feeling fiercely protective and possessive of the ugly pan..J’s pan. I want to add something here …my children just like me only know their grandmother J through stories passed on to them by their cousins, their dad and their aunts and uncle so I am glad they have something tangible that was hers. Even though it was completely unnecessary I packed the pan with the utmost care when it went into storage and did not seek to replace it with a shiny new All Clad version (not that there is anything like this pan for sale at Williams Sonoma) as I cooked in my new kitchen and began creating favorite dishes (still don’t like chile even though my family loves my version of J’s recipe..I had to tweak it over the years to satisfy the palates of my children) I found myself looking for the pan, missing its presence in the  kitchen.

The other day I got through the end of our Thanksgiving leftovers. I was about to send one of our humans back to college and there is no way this mama would send them back without at least 2 days worth of cooked food for the whole house they share with 4 others ..and I made their favorite “leftovers risotto”. That is pretty much what it sounds like it is …whatever this kid will eat is added to risotto (did I mention this kid has celiac disease and is gluten free???) for this particular kid, gravy is a food group so instead of cream and cheese I use gravy. I get the kid’s point because this is actually one of the better uses of leftovers I have come up with ..the other is poutine made with turkey, stuffing and cranberry sauce topped with gravy and cheese ..can you hear the angels singing and my gallbladder screaming simultaneously??? Getting back on track here…I made leftovers risotto in J’s pan while this kiddo got a little extra sleep and the husband did whatever it is he does on Sunday mornings. J and I were together again, making comfort food for her son and grandchildren ..sharing the love, keeping it real, showing that a little tangible piece of the past can bring happiness, comfort and family to the present.

Recycled Grief

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The first time I became familiar with the writings and works of Elisabeth Kubler Ross I was still in high school and my mother had recently died. I attended an all girls Catholic school and my religion elective that year was called Death and Dying, The class was popular, I think its popularity had more to do with the charismatic male teacher that everyone wanted to take class with than the subject matter itself, (which is on one hand morbid and somber but on the other hand a cause for joy in the Catholic faith for it is in death that we are once again with our Father in Heaven). I was among those who hoped to have a class with Mr. Lewis, but looking back I am not sure if the subject matter was necessarily anything I was ready to conquer at the time. 30 years later,  I do not remember much from that class..nor do I recall much about Mr. Lewis except that I remember the class being interesting and I remember towards the end he was rather irritated with me because I kept falling asleep in his class no matter what time of the day it was held (it turned out I had a rather nasty case of mononucleosis)  What I do recall is I opened up one day in a class discussion and mentioned that  in my mind I knew my mother had died, but I was still having a tough time believing it really happened ..almost like I was expecting to wake up from a dream and everything would be different. I also acknowledged  I found myself really angry that I woke up every day and everything was the same . I talked about how I was making little deals with God at the time..just get me through today and I promise I will be kind and give someone my seat on the bus, or I will do extra chores at home, or think only good thoughts about everyone at home and how I felt let down by God in those days. That was when we talked about the grief cycle and I was introduced to Elisabeth Kubler Ross.

I confess I was not much interested in that book. or any book for that matter. I did not think anyone understood what I was going through and who needed a book to tell me in that moment and the moments ahead and recently left behind that life sucked. My mother was dead, my family was not easy to live with and I held on to a small glimmer of hope that things could and would get better. That book ON DEATH AND DYING is in a box somewhere in my basement. The book has tattered corners and yellowed pages, it has underlines and highlights of passages I needed to know for a high school class and later on from my own necessary interest in the content after another profound loss rocked my world. I find myself going to that book when I need to remind myself that it is ok to grieve even many years later ..to soothe the guilt that I am simply not over what happened , to understand that grief is not limited to death and dying that other losses in our lives are grieved..or if I need to help someone I know and love who is on their own journey of grief ..I am needing to seek its wisdom once again but lack the energy to search through all the crap stacked in the mess that occupies our basement. Thank goodness for the internet and sites like Facebook and Google  where links to the information are easily accessible.

Today I am thinking about that book and all it that it taught me about loss and grief ..I made the mistake of looking at something I know I shouldn’t have and yup I was sucked down the rabbit hole ..out of acceptance and back into bargaining, sadness and worse…anger. I feel the anger bubbling inside and rising up like a pot of boiling water ..only right now I don;t know how to turn down the heat and I’ll be damned if I can find the lid to the pot..it is probably buried in the basement with my copy of ON DEATH AND DYING. Anger is that part of the grief cycle that I HATE..anger makes me frustrated and tearful, anger forces me to look through a different lens on things versus the one that makes me comfortable and worst of all anger leaves me feeling guilty.

Yes I feel guilty these days because I am getting angry ..I am angry at my mother because she is dead and she has been dead since I was a child..physically she died in 1986 at age 49..and it was her fault she died..lung cancer took her away from me, but she chose to smoke even when the poison from chemotherapy raced through her veins and radiation burned through her body hoping to buy her a few more months..she walked out of her appointments and lit right up ..nothing mattered to her but her own wants and desires and I get that now..even though I can see just how broken and complex her life was ..still I realize in the end and even before it was all about her. I am angry that whatever happened in the fall and early winter of 1973/74 when I was 4 years old totally derailed the path we were headed on and I do not think she was ever the same again. I am really PISSED that even faced with death my mother chose to keep her secrets regarding my father..that my mother knew she could contact him and arrange a meeting just so I could have some answers and she chose to deny me what I needed to know. I know I am supposed to see past that..I should forgive her and accept that she was a troubled soul with minimal education and probably a host of learning issues and maybe even mental illness.I know for sure 1 thing is she suffered from depression ..I know what I should do..but I can’t right now. Right now I am thinking about me.

I feel this painful sadness that I am learning bits and pieces about my father and who I am via the internet. It’s not the same as knowing someone ..it’s real and theoretical all at the same time.  It’s sad and satisfying in its own way as well. Most people if they do not grow up with their families at least have relatives or friends who relay stories and tell them things like you have your father’s eyes, you remind me of your mother by the way you walk..your grandmother had the same look on her face when she was angry..I have none of that. My mother died and everyone stopped talking about her after the funeral as if she never existed..my father, the man who called int he middle of the night and stopped by long after I went to bed (except for once that i remember) the man to whom my mother often said in anger “she is a piece crap just like you” or “I can’t stand to look at her because she reminds me of you” ceased to exist after we moved out of our apartment ..he would remain Tony the lawyer with a wife named Carol and a daughter named Katie .the man who I ached to know, the man who should have rescued me just vanished like a puff of smoke in the air. He died in 2010 when I was 40 years old ..I found his obituary at the time..they did not even have a wake for him, they had a memorial at a later time .I wondered then like I do now..was it a ploy to keep me away. My sister Kate knows I exist..I wrote to her in my 20s..she lives in the same house now as she did then ..I till have the same address as I did then  ..she never wrote back..she never called ..she just left me hanging. I found another relative named John Michael ..he acts as if I have no right to any information about my family that he holds…he and his sister called my father “Uncle Tony” ..I hate to break it to you John Michael but my father as you know was an only child, your mother Trish (I found her name thanks to ancestry research) was his first cousin on his mother’s side …my FATHER is your second cousin and I am more deserving of knowing who he was and how he died than you are. It took John Michael 4 years..that is right 4 YEARS to respond me after I reached out to him..and instead of having an ounce of compassion he came across as an asshole.

I am mostly angry with my parents ..they made a decision to carry on an affair..I am the result of that affair ..Tony got to walk away and go back to his wife, child, career and life ..my mother got to have his child ..I got to be abandoned, I got to be treated as a second class citizen and pitied because I did not have a father (I had/have one he just decided not to be a part of my life) I got to live in the projects in a 1 bedroom apartment infested with rodents and cockroaches, I got to live below a very mentally ill woman who could be dangerous, who stayed up all hours of the day and night screaming and slamming on the floor ..playing the same song on repeat on her stereo (I still cringe when I hear the song ME AND MRS JONES) I got to often go hungry, I got to be told how ugly I was and how much I ruined her my mother’s life. I got to wait to see if my father would show up even to just talk at my mother’s wake and funeral..and as far as I know he did not. I got to be rejected by my father after I wrote to him in my twenties ..I am still being rejected by my sister. My sister does not want to be bothered to have a relationship with me. I spent years feeling guilty that I wrote to her and told her who I am ( I was probably 23/24 at the time and that would have made her 31/32 it is not like we were babies) feeling like maybe I never should have said anything and just stayed in my troll corner..now I am pissed at her as well.

Kate..you do not have to have a relationship with me…I get it you see me as a less than person whose mother did something heinous to your mother. (Projecting here I know) and you are right ..I can’t excuse what my mother did or what our father did to your mother ..but let’s get something  straight here.none of that is my fault. I did not choose my parents any more than you chose yours. I do not know the circumstances of your birth but I can tell you this…between the 2 of us..I was not wanted. Just the fact that I was a girl and not a boy was a huge issue ..but even after I was here neither one of them wanted anything to do with me. Here is the difference between us.. I doubt you ever went hungry, I doubt you were ever woken up at 2 in the morning because there was a raging dumpster fire or abandoned car burning in the alley outside your bedroom window and the flames shattered the glass from the window all over you as you slept. I doubt your mother told you how heinous you were simply for existing and that your father wanted you to be an abortion..I doubt you ever lived a day wondering who one of your parents is and looking in the mirror trying to figure out who you look like, wondering why you can read a book in a day (when your mother can barely read) or why your eyes are green when your mothers were dark brown, I doubt you ever wondered what nationality you were or if you had grandparents.  I doubt you ever had to be the one who paid the bills at age 8, I doubt you had to learn to cook at 7 or ever had to eat mustard sandwiches for dinner, learn how to make a dozen of eggs, a stick of butter, a jar of peanut butter (a food I HATE) and a loaf of bread last for a week, or that you had to learn how to sneak off to relatives houses just to get something to eat because your mother and her sisters were not talking and once again you were hungry. I doubt you ever had to go begging the neighbors for milk, for some bread or worse what mattered more to your mother..cigarettes. I doubt you ever had to shake your clothes out or your school bad to make sure there were no cockroaches, I doubt you had to ask people to drop you off on a different street and pretend to go into a different house because you knew people would think differently of you if they knew you lived in the projects. I doubt you were on food stamps and I doubt you know what it is like to be utterly all alone in this world and have to figure out where you were going to go and how you were going to make it.

That is my life Kate..and still you look down upon me. In many ways I am grateful for that life because of it I am fiercely independent and very resourceful and I understand how a little compassion goes a long way. In other ways I despise that is what Madeline and Tony did to me and I feel guilty, sad and angry all at the same time that I just cannot accept that is the way it was. I don;t want much from you my sister. Naively I used to want a relationship where I had a sister ..I do not want that any longer..What I want is for you to acknowledge me just once..I want you to stop holding my medical history and anything about my father hostage. He is also my father like it or not..you are my half sister. we are family. I admit I  am angry with you because you have the power to be kind and you are choosing not to be and I can’t understand why. If our roles were reversed ..I would welcome you into my life with open arms. I think life has taught me to be kind because I have not always experienced kindness and I know a little kindness can create change in anyone’s life. You don’t deserve my kindness ..but I know who I am and I will always have an open door for you. I make bargains with God every day ..If I just do this could you please send me a sign…I don’t have much left to bargain with. For as much as I am angry with you Kate..I am also so terribly sad ..no heartbroken for what probably will never be. I am sure all those who love you would say you are an amazing person and I am sure they are right..I am sure the ones who know about me think I am this awful human being who needs to stay in her place and out of your existence …the people who love me would tell you I am not so bad.I really do not have horns on my head and I looked there is no 666 tattooed at the base of my skull..my friends and loved ones can’t understand why you are rejecting me and think maybe you should reconsider your position.  As for me..I will get through this cycle of grief, it will kick my ass for a while but in the end it will all be ok ..it has to be otherwise the grief and the crap wins and I am way to competitive to allow that to happen