Saturday, May 29, 2010

Going Home....

Thursday I packed up the kids and the dog and headed was time for a visit to Dad's place. I hadn't seen him since March when he stopped here on his way back home after "wintering" in California. I hadn't been here to his house since October.

Over 1/2 of a year since I had been here....

Walking in the door it hit me...Mom isn't here and she's not going to be. But...she's everywhere here. I'm not sure if that is comforting or uncomfortable, honestly.

Some moments it's comforting...I see her things, the stuff she bought to decorate this house...she's here. The familiar-ness of it is comforting. Sometimes.

Then there's the uncomfortable moments. Her things...her decor. It's uncomfortable because she's not here and those things are a constant reminder that she is not coming back. Doing the things that we did with her...taking a golf cart ride, treating the kids to ice cream, going to the old button factory to look for shells with the button popped out....those things again remind me that she's gone. Gone.

Then I see the changes in the house. Nothing huge, but small changes that my Dad has made since losing his mate on 7/4/09. Her closets are empty...her things are gone from underneath the sink. The deck boxes have flowers, but every time I glance at them I know she's up there bitching about how pitiful they look! The baskets around the yard are the same...planted, but so sparsely that I'm sure she's disgusted.

Then I see the changes in my Dad. In a little over 2 weeks he's going to be 80 years old. He normally gets around pretty well and can do most things for himself.

This time it's different. His leg is bothering him...he's been seeing a chiro, but nothing is really working. It seems to be a muscular issue, but the treatments aren't helping and he's sitting more and more. Even sitting is painful. Watching that is painful.

Dad loves being on the water. But now Dad can't get down to the beach to take his boat out. And, if he CAN get down there, he can't tilt the motor up and out of the water once he gets back to shore. My brother found a guy that can put an automatic trim on the motor to lift it out. I think we've talked Dad into getting that done so that he can enjoy his boat again...that is, on the days that his leg isn't bothering him too bad to get down there.

I want to go home. I like being blissfully ignorant and talking to him and thinking everything is A-OK. I don't like coming here and feeling the emptiness of the house and seeing him struggle. I wonder at this point if he's just struggling to stay alive to spare John, Jeff, Dave, and I anymore loss so soon.

And then, in the midst of all of this, it is Memorial Day weekend. A time to remember those who are no longer here, and especially those who served and lost their lives in combat. I haven't seen John since December. Being here reminded me once again how painfully broken he is. He has Schuyler's stuff (medals, awards, etc) in one spot now. The room is a beautiful tribute, but also a harsh reminder of that loss. Seeing everything and seeing the pain in John's eyes pulls up memories and snips of time during those days and weeks after Schuyler's death. I watch Amber struggle to keep Sky's memory alive and make sure nobody in Kewanee forgets. I see John tear up as he sees the flags, medals, pins, and countless other military memorabilia.

I went to the cemetery while I was in Kewanee. It was just Avery and I. We went and I sat on Sky's bench. It's still a shrine of sorts...people leave all kinds of stuff there...there were sunglasses, quarters, fishing lures, etc. I wonder what he'd be like now...would he be thinking about going back for a 3rd tour, or would he be settling into some semblance of a normal life?


That's what I feel on this visit.


I love my family and I'm so glad that I can come and visit, but this one has been difficult. I feel the losses so more acutely when I'm here, surrounded by the constant reminders. I feel the losses daily at home, but the feelings are so much more intense and the memories flashing through my mind so much more vivid being here.

This trip has reaffirmed what I've thought all along since Schuyler died...

...nothing will ever be the same...

Saturday, May 22, 2010


I should be at the gym working out....

I should be doing some laundry or cleaning the house....

I should be doing something productive....

But instead, I'm sitting on the deck, just-finished coffee cup at my side, enjoying the calm.

It's so incredibly beautiful back here. The sunbeams are peeking through the branches, the blue sky is a beautiful contrast to the green leaves. I can hear birds chirping and squirrels playing in the trees. A light breeze shimmers through and rustles the foliage. The flowers back here are vibrant...pinks, greens, purple, white...

It's CALM.

I wish a photo could capture how beautiful it looks back here with the sun peeking through the breaks in the trees. But for now I will just ignore life and sit here and enjoy the calm. There will be time for laundry, errands, household chores and LIFE later...right now if a tiny piece of calm in the sea of chaos, so I'm going to enjoy it while I can!

When a moment of calm sneaks up on you this weekend, go with it...enjoy that calm. There's plenty of time for chaos later....

Enjoy the calm.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mother's Day

Leading up to and including today I have been a bit quiet. I've been quiet because internally I've been trying to figure out how to have Mother's Day since I don't have a mother any longer. My Mom, Joan, died suddenly on July 4, 2009. I have been reflecting on our relationship and mostly thinking about all the ways I didn't treat her right. I've been thinking about regrets and missed opportunities...about how unconditional love means accepting the good AND bad points of someone...about how I'd really like just one more more half day tell her how much I love her and how much I looked up to her, even when I was criticizing her or rolling my eyes at her in that "Oh, there goes Mom again" way.

Don't get me wrong...I did not have a BAD relationship with my Mom. We talked almost every day on the phone. Man, I miss that! She listened to everything, no matter how trivial the issue was...she listened. She knew I needed to get it off my chest. Blogging has somewhat filled that void for me. I can sit down and type it out. Toss in a little of my snarky humor and suddenly I feel a little better...not as good as talking to Mom for an hour, but therapeutic nonetheless.

My Mom was there for me when I had Drake and again when I delivered Avery. She was so awesome, especially when I had Drake. I worried that she'd be too know, taking the baby from me, telling me what to do, offering advice whether I wanted it or not. As it turned out, taking my Mom home to Dad was upsetting for BOTH Jeff and I! She was awesome and we wanted to keep her forever! She cooked, cleaned, did laundry. She offered help with the baby only when asked...hell, sometimes I had to BEG her to weigh in with her opinion of what I should or should not do! It was so uncharacteristically her...but she stood back, helped with the household tasks, and let me learn how to be a Mom all on my own. Looking back on those few weeks today I think about Avery becoming a Mom someday. I hope and pray that I can be as absolutely invaluable to Avery as my Mom was to me upon the birth of my first child. She was simply awesome.

My Mom and I had a pretty typical relationship I think. We had some seriously rocky times. Teenage years were no fun for her, I can only imagine. I was a little bitch and I took out my frustration on her so many times. Thank God she never punched me in the mouth...when in fact I'm sure she wanted to and I would've totally deserved it! In my 20's I started to realize that she really wasn't all that bad! She actually knew a thing or two and wasn't horrible to hang out with. She talked me through some cooking disasters and helped me out with recipes over the phone on several occasions. She taught so much by example. It makes me wonder what my kids are picking up from me...ugh...probably better to NOT think about that right now!

My family is a verbal family...we're also huggers. We always say "I Love You". I really hope she knew how much I loved her. The past year had been a bit rocky. I had been pretty vocal about my lack of love for her love of vodka. She was pretty vocal about not really caring for my opinion on the topic. That disagreement hung over us like a black cloud for many months. At the time I felt like I loved her enough to draw my line in the sand and that she loved me enough to stop and come on over to my side again. Unfortunately it didn't work out that way and from then on every time I saw her have even one drink I got stressed out. Looking back now I feel like it was silly for me to waste so much time on something I should've KNOWN I would have no control over. Control what YOU can control, I heard recently. So very true. I couldn't control whether or not she had another drink, but I sure could've controlled my reaction to her drinking. Hindsight is 20/20. I hope she knew that I loved her way more than a silly argument and that I'd give anything to have her back, even if just for one more day.

I think about my kids and her and so many emotions stir around. Drake will remember her, without a doubt. She loved both of my kids like mad, but Drake was special for her...she loved him from the minute Jeff and I called to say we were having a baby! He will remember her and remember specific things they did. That's a great thing. Avery, on the other hand, I'm afraid will forget her. Just the other day Avery said to me "Hey Mom, remember the grandma that used to be at Patch's house....what happened to her?". Aves calls my Dad "Patch". Her question about broke my heart....she remembers her now, but what about as time passes....will she remember? Maybe not. That makes me so sad. I'll have to do what I can to keep her memory alive in Avery and Drake. I want them to remember how incredibly much she loved them and how much happiness they brought to her life.

Last year at this time our region suffered a horrible storm. After spending one night with no power Jeff and I decided to load up the kids and drive up to see my folks...we figured we would be without power for a while so we'd just take off. We got up there Saturday of Mother's Day weekend. My brother John and his family were there, as was Amber and her crew. We spent a fun weekend, but after getting the call from a neighbor that our power was back on, Jeff and I decided that we'd head home on Sunday and begin the cleanup. My Mom was so bummed...she was counting on us staying for half of the week at least! She was so sad, yet the only thing I could think of was to get back home and start cleaning up. How stupid! One more day wouldn't have made much difference with the house, but it would've been one more day with her. There I go with that awesome hindsight again.

We went for breakfast at the fire station. That's what she wanted to do, so we went there. We drove separately so that we could get on the road right after eating. I remember how sad her face was that morning as we stood on the sidewalk saying our "Goodbyes". I remember being a little irritated with her for trying to guilt us into staying. Didn't she know how busy we were going to be...we NEEDED to get home. I hope she knew that we weren't rushing away from her but rushing back to a big mess that had to be dealt with. If given the chance now I'd stay Sunday...and probably even Monday and Tuesday too.

I wish I would've gotten there on July 4th before she slipped away. I wish I could've looked her in the eyes one more time and tell her THANKS. Tell her that even when I was mad at her, I still loved her....tell her that I learned so much from her and that now when I do something and it reminds me of her I smile...because a part of her is living on in me. I miss her so much and there is a huge hole in my heart. At 37 I was too young to lose my Mom, but then I think I'd probably say the same at 47, 57, and even 67!

To anyone reading this, if your Mom is alive, please take a minute to tell her that you love her and tell her that even if you don't agree on everything it doesn't mean that you love her any less. Tell her the things she's taught you and tell her how even some stuff that you thought irritating now make you smile when you find yourself doing the same thing! Tell her that you love her and that you're sorry for hurting her in the past.

I hope there's really a Heaven, and I hope that my Mom meets up with Schuyler on occasion and looks in on us. I hope they both know that they are missed and loved each and every day. I hope they can see that we're all doing the best we can, which some days isn't really all that good. I hope they can see us, even stand by us at times. I hope they see the happy days and the bad days...not to make them sad, but to remind them that their absence has left an irreparable hole in our family fabric. I hope she knows that she left behind 4 "kids" that think of her every day and think that she did a pretty damned good job of being our Mom.