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Saturday, June 27, 2015

SSM-understanding

I spent many hours last night and some time again this morning listening to the angry and disappointed responses to the SCOTUS decision from yesterday. I am nothing if not versed on both sides of important issues. I even listened to Fox ?News? for an hour. Really listened. Really read hundreds of comments and statements from those opposed to gay marriage being made a national issue, at all. Btw, I learned Federalism is dead as of yesterday. I thought it was dead as of the Civil War, but I was wrong.
Trying very hard to comprehend the outrage. The sadness. The fear.
I come to this conclusion for my own understanding and my own need to be happy about this new freedom while still maintaining some kind of understanding for those who cannot accept it:
Because state bans on SSM (same sex marriage) are now unconstitutional, many Christians firmly believe that churches will be required to perform weddings that go against their basic beliefs.
---thirty-three years ago I went to the Catholic priest in our home town to discuss marrying my Catholic fiancé in that church. I was not Catholic, but I knew others who had done this so I thought it was right for us. The priest was very compassionate and I liked him. We talked for some time about why I didn't care to convert and he seemed to understand, though hoped I would come around. I thought we were good to go.
Then he started pulling out the paperwork. First thing on the list was dissolving my first marriage.
After many questions and honest answers, I told him that I had married in a church before God and many loved ones and no way could I sign a paper saying it was an unholy or non-sanctioned union. It was a failed marriage that produced two children who were legitimate and nothing could change that. He pulled back the paperwork and suggested we go to a courthouse and understand that our marriage would not be recognized by THE church.
I didn't sue. I didn't even argue. The church refused to marry us based on their beliefs and church laws. They didn't lose their tax exempt status for refusing to house or bless our marriage.
We were married in another church, a Congregational Christian church that welcomed and blessed us.
I see no difference now with SS couples.

I fail to comprehend the homosexuality is an abomination according to the Bible outrage because none of the other abominations are causing outrage. I'm not seeing restaurants who sell shellfish picketed or the people who eat there stoned. I'm not seeing women in slacks being targeted. I may have missed it, but I'm not seeing polygamy rising in popularity. I'm not seeing women stoned for disloyalty nor for serving their families pork, the dirty meat.
Feels a lot like abortion and SSM are the only two really big sins from which there is no coming back. I honestly don't get it. If you believe in the word of the Bible, if you know it's the word of God and you're willing to stand tall and stand for God, then why not on all things biblically sinful? Why on only issue you aren't part of?
I can only conclude that the outrage is mostly fear mongering for things to come or not to come. That it's much more about judging and hate than about God's law. And mostly it's about losing a fight the right was sure they had sewed up.
It's much more about not caring about people who think differently. If you are not on the train of righteous indignation over this SSM decision, you are on a fast trip to hell. Your moral decay will ruin you and now the entire country.
It really is about hate. It really is about not accepting anyone's beliefs that differ from the fundamentalist beliefs.
If some other religion (we have hundreds with legal rights here) were to decide to be THE religion of America, would we all have to drop our own beliefs to follow them? That's what you're asking for if you are still fighting this fight on this team. Because you are demanding it's your way or the highway to Hell. There are countless organized religions who believe just as strongly as you do that they are the only way to heaven. They believe just as strongly as you do that you are going to Hell with all your doctrines and judging and hate.
The truth is, no one knows for certain what IS and what ISN'T the way to Heaven or even if there is one or many or none. What we do know is that this country was founded on freedom to worship your own way in your own beliefs. That freedom requires that we all accept each other and each other's doctrines not as our own, but as valid.
Once again I am left with this...Love is the answer and kindness works. Judging is not for us. It is for God, alone. Living in your own beliefs the best you know how without insisting other people live their with you is the only American way. This is not a country of ONE religion, that was England and that is why the pilgrims came HERE.
Peace and LOVE to all.

Jo

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Monday musings...thoughts...ramblings.

We spent several hours at the beach today. The ocean water is 80 degrees now and we both spent a good amount of time in the water. I actually swam a little for the first time. I don't swim in anything but a pool. Today, though, with temps in the 90s and an ocean full of bath water, I just swam. It was very nice. I may become an ocean swimmer after all!

I look out over the Atlantic with my toes squeezing sand as the warm water washes over them and I realize how spectacular my new home is. I see the power of the rolling waves and as I walk through them, I feel the weight of them push against my legs and my body. It's almost as if it's pushing me back to shore. If I lay on water and float, I do gently flow back to shore at an angle to where I start. Gently, once I relax and float. Powerful, when I am moving under my own steam with my own direction in mind. I think very much like God. My life goes gently along in the general area I am heading, if I'm relaxed and listening. If I'm tense and pushing my way along, going my own way, the road blocks are powerful. 

I am always in awe of birds. Tiny little feathered creatures that wave their "arms" and fly! Soaring high above tree tops over miles they lightly move with such ease. Rain or shine, hot or cold, they drop by the feeders to snack and I am convinced, say hello to the humans they have become comfortable around.

Taking my evening walk was scrapped for a bike ride on Roomy's wheels. Touring the neighborhood I notice that we live in a very diverse sub. It's actually a series of subs, three, I think. Front is a trailer park. Very old and full, as far as I can tell. Then beyond that is the second sub which consists of four roads that only connect to each other and the main road, Golf Avenue. Then there is a storm drain and a row of power lines that separates that sub from Springleaf which has three development stages.

We live in Springleaf, phase two, apparently.

Our house is on the largest lot and the edge of phase three. All the new builds behind or north of us.  Our house was the last of the phase two builds, or so it appears from the earlier satellite shots from goggle earth.  Phase one is the homes on the south side of Golf Avenue.  

In these three subs live all ages, races and kinds of people. It's only a mile and a quarter in depth and about a quarter of a mile wide.
I find that although a retirement community might have been fun, this diversity interests and amuses me. Also pleases my senses. There have been no crimes here since we moved in. We have police driving through regularly waving, smiling if they pass a human.
It's safe and it's comfortable. People are friendly. Not sociable, but friendly. And nearly everyone walks somewhere, at some point.

It's nothing like anyplace I've ever lived and I'm grateful for all this has shown me. 

Following that path...the one to which we were led.


Jo

Friday, May 29, 2015

Mother's Day 2015




She looked at the calendar while waiting for her morning coffee to brew. May had arrived and it carried a heavy weight. In less than 2 weeks it would be Mother’s Day. How on earth could she possibly spend that day and emotionally survive? The wheels were spinning and her thoughts were all over the place on how and where and what she could plan with her husband that might make this day not the most difficult day she had faced in months.

Moving across country from two of her sons and their families was difficult on many levels. She loves those boys and their kids. Her grandchildren are the stars of her sometimes dark nights. The sound of their voices and the smiles when they see her are just about the most magical things she’d ever seen. She also has a son and a daughter in Tennessee. That daughter has two more of her precious granddaughters. Her family now was, at best, 10 hours away and at worst 18 hours away. The boys who always came when something needed fixed and Dad needed help weren't available anymore. The Sunday afternoon visits or meeting for dinner after work, not going to happen now. Missing these people was inevitable. It was also harder than either of them had anticipated.

The move was preceded by two enormous losses. Four months prior her beloved mother had passed quickly in her arms. After five years of being her mother’s taxi and main source of human contact and five weeks of living together, her life felt very empty. The full price offer on that home came just a little over a month after the funeral.
Momma 90th birthday 2012


The house was sold. A new house had been purchased in Florida. The retirement she and her husband had planned for over 30 years was in motion. They and their two furbabies would be moving without Momma. This was not how they pictured things. But it was how they would now proceed. 
Sadie

Just four days before they were scheduled to move one of the furbabies, their 13 year old Bichon, Sadie, passed away. Things had to keep moving now and the heavy hearts and the sadness of these two losses were part of the process. Together, in love and in life, they continued to that dream.

Two months after the move her husband’s oldest brother died. Not unexpected, he was a cancer patient and they all knew time was not on his side. A trip back north was in order. The plus of this trip was seeing the six grandchildren who still live there. The loss was softened somewhat with this blessing. The sisters and bothers all being together and talking, hugging and telling stories all helped the healing process. And in just a few days back to Florida they drove with their 14, almost 15, year old furbaby and carried on refreshed with the visit.

Now two months later. It’s the first Mother’s Day without her mother. It’s the first Mother’s Day without her boys and grand babies. It’s her first Mother’s Day without her sister and brother because they all celebrated it with their mom on Saturday before and then she would spend Sunday with her mom, as well. Often just the three of them. Momma, Husband and Her. The boys often came on Saturday to see everyone. It’s her first Mother’s Day alone with her man. This holiday has always been her favorite because of the special attention to her Momma and then her delight in being a mom herself. 
Mal and Bri

 Momma and I a long time ago

Jake

John, Madee and Jack

Me, Momma, Mike, Pat

Jayne and Momma

Chloe, Hailee and Gma Jo

The plan, at this point, is to try to ignore the date. Knowing it is a special day in her past and will never be the same, her thoughts are “don’t have it at all;” because doing nothing feels easier than anything she can think to do. A long drive maybe to just not be in the house. Nothing spectacular, just a change of scenery and the company of the man she loves. 
25th Anniversary Mikey and Me

Plan 2, a full day at the beach. Her favorite place to be and no expectation of anything, but sun and water and sand. A cool drink and a light lunch. Then a quick drive thru’ dinner on the way home to the furbaby.

With either plan, she will have to accept a new normal. She will have to realize she chose this, in part, by moving so far from her loves. She will also have to accept that she is no longer a daughter. 

It was the beach. It was a good day with morning tears. Texts and phone calls from all the kids and the sister. Each call had a few tears. It couldn't be any different. It was another of those firsts. Another almost impossible day that wasn't terrible all day. It just had terrible moments of heartache. The kind that goes with change and with loss.

It's a new life with new normals. She has this, most of the time. And she loses it sometimes. But that's okay. It's the price of loving someone so very much.

Of course, she is me. Obviously. I'll get a handle on it, soon.

Jo

Thursday, March 19, 2015

The Year of Firsts~2015

Here we are all settled in Florida and loving our new home. I have so many things to share with you all that have been filling my head that I just decided today to get started. I've not published a story since we sold our home in Michigan and found this one in Florida. Much has happened since that early December day.

We packed a box or two or four every day until we got to the kitchen. That room we left until just a day before closing. Ah, closing. Yes, that was supposed to be December 29, 2014. It was actually January 11, 2015. Just eleven days too late to save us $1000 in property taxes on our new home. We didn't find that out until the middle of February when we filled out the paperwork for the deductions based on our age and income. It is applied January 1 each year. Crap!

The closing went well in Michigan and the next afternoon we closed in Florida after driving straight through. The movers came the next morning at 9 am and we were alone in our new house filled with boxes by dinner time. We ate out. The kitchen had a coffee pot and some cups and the food the movers brought.

Our bedroom and our bathroom were usable and we used them both. Slept like a baby. Waking several times through the night. But we were home.

As much as we love this life, we left much in Michigan and lost much there. Six months ago Momma passed in the house that is not our home anymore. I brought all the memories with me. Two days before we moved, our furbaby, Sadie, who would have turned 14 in May, died. We asked to have her ashes sent to us here. We have those with us, we have thirteen years of loving memories of her. We don't have her.

Two of our boys live in Michigan, a third is in Tennessee as is our daughter. Six of our grandchildren are in Michigan. We left them but not their love. We brought that and plans for the future with them and texting keeps them in our lives, but we don't have them here.

We left life-long friends in Michigan. Hoping some will come down and visit at some point. We left newer friends that may drive or fly down one day, but there's no promise of that. It's sad to think about, but for thirty-three years we have planned for and wanted this life and we have it now.

We have met some nice people here in the neighborhood and at some businesses, but we are basically alone. Roomy and me and our Jake. He is turning 15 in May. Since it's just us three, we find he is with us as often as possible on our errands or making trips to the park where he can chase birds and bark at people.

This is where we belong. No question in our minds. As we just celebrated our 33rd anniversary by visiting with and mourning with Roomy's side of the family saying good bye to the oldest brother, the first sibling to pass. He was the family patriarch and we all miss him. Already a quick trip back to Michigan for a funeral. A sibling funeral. Nothing reminds you of your own mortality faster than that.
Nothing reminds you how much you love your siblings faster than that. Every day matters. Every word you hear or say may be the last.

I was sure 2015 would be a year of firsts. I wasn't wrong. First time we've been alone, truly alone. First sibling death. First emergency trip to Michigan. Not all things I thought would be on my list of firsts.

On the brighter side, however, I wake every day now with a smile, of sorts. I'm not a morning person.
The sun shines in the bedroom window and I have only recently fallen into my sleeping late mode. I am back to my normal self. I sleep until 8 or 9 and I sit on the back porch and scroll FB and sip coffee and smoke. I start my day between 11 and noon and I smile a lot. I go to the Farmer's Market for fresh fruit, vegetables and the fish market for ocean fish and shrimp and scallops. I stop into the meat market for steaks once a month or so to grill. We eat out at least one day a week because there are just so many wonderful places to eat around us that we want to try them all. We do what we want, when we want for the most part.

We've had a couple of nice days with my brother and sister-in-law and have another one planned before they head back to the Chicago area for the summer. It's nice having them just a couple hours away, but they like the two home life and it's definitely not for us. We want this permanent house and our life to be here. To each his own and this is right for us.

I learned a great deal in this move. I learned more once we were making our new home. I will seriously write about all of that one day. It could be fun to do and might even be an entertaining and smile worthy read, but right now, I'm thinking it's time to get started on Momma's story. I am ready to start this process. I realize now that her story is never-ending. Her legacy, along with Dad's will live for generations to come because each of us carries her with us. The story can now be written as she watches over my shoulder with encouragement. She always encouraged me to write. I hope she motivates me through this new project of love.

Now in the middle of the third month of 2015, I am looking for and creating some really good firsts. Life style changes, back to writing and moving on with the rest of our lives...together, in Florida our paradise.

Jo

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Walking the Path We Are Meant to Walk




In the last two weeks our lives have taken an amazing turn. We sold our Michigan house.

We had Thanksgiving and three of our four kids came with all their kids and the kid of the fourth child also came. It was a great day for all of us. We also had some of them for a couple extra days and we loved that. Then we went to Florida and bought a house! Yep, found our perfect house in one day. We came home and learned on the way home that both houses will close on the same day. It couldn’t be any better than this.

Now we are back in Michigan and everything seems to be falling into place. If the movers can work with our schedule, we are good to go. If not, we have a back-up plan so there is no panic expected.

I think a great deal about this past year of 2014. It started with our first trip to Florida to find which area we wanted to settle into and Ormond Beach felt like home from our first drive through. We looked at many other areas, but nothing compared. We came back to Michigan and over the next few months talked with Momma until I was convinced she was actually looking forward to being there, if not the actual move. We talked many times about which house we would select, what it had to have and where it needed to be located. She was interested in where her things would go, what we would do with all her “new” furniture and her antiques. Once I assured her that my furniture didn’t matter to me and we would take all of her’s, she seemed settled. 

In August the decision was made by her and I that it was time for her to move in with us. She was becoming afraid to be alone and I was very worried about her being alone. The house had not sold so it was important to make room for her things here. We had a big sale the next week-end and sold all of our stuff that simply didn’t fit anymore. We sold a lot of duplicate stuff, mostly mine, keeping mostly hers. It was the right thing to do and she was very happy living here with us. It worked even better than I thought it would. I did have a few times of stress when I had to just go out for an hour or so, call my sister and vent or just go outside and sit, but honestly for the most part, I so enjoyed having her here. She was great company and seeing her emotional improvement was medicine to me. She was eating everything I offered and laughing and talking so much more easily than when she was alone. Her depression disappeared. It was so good for all of us.

Roomy basically waited on her hand and foot. He enjoyed doing that. I am so blessed that this man chose to love me. And Momma. 

She was here exactly 5 weeks. She died and I fell apart.

This all happened at exactly the same time the house went off the market. We wanted to change realtors. It was off the market for a week or so. Why? Just the way things worked out and because that is how He meant for it to be. We needed grieving and adjusting time and though the new realtors did get things moving again, it still didn’t sell. We were planning to be here all winter. 

The grieving has been progressively less debilitating and two months later, we got a full price offer. A good solid offer. We accepted.

Since this day, every things else has simply fallen into place. This was the right buyer, the right time and He seems to be leading us now onto our new path. We are following and feeling like it is exactly what He wanted and as always, in His time, not ours. 

All the ducks had to be in a row and they are. That’s not luck, that’s Devine intervention.
That’s His way. Walking the path of His making is a safe and happy place.

I find myself thinking of where everything is going to be in the new house and I find myself feeling Momma smiling. She knew, I believe, that she wasn’t going with us, but she also knew that she will always be with me. She fills my heart in her absence in a new way, but still very strongly part of my every thought. I will never be without her and I will be beside her again one day. She will be waiting for me. As will Dad and many other people I love who have gone before me.

My goal now is to stay focused and every day get a little more done in preparation for moving day and not to get overwhelmed, but take one little job at a time until they are all finished. My mind is wandering today to the new life chapter Roomy, the furkids and I will begin on December 29, 2014.

My year of many lasts is nearly over. The last time I walk out the door here and the last time I call Michigan home are still on the list, but those open the door to our new life.

The year of firsts begins a few days before the actual 2015 change, but it’s all exciting and new and sad and unknown. I will miss knowing 6 of my grand babies are a short drive away, but I will know they are all at the other end of my phone and we will be free to travel home for hug fixes when the weather allows and when we get the house settled.

The siblings (ours) have mixed feelings. Most are happy for us and sad that they will miss us. Feeling the same way. A couple are just mad. No reason to break up the family by so many miles. Just think we should live in both places. Winter south and summer north. Unfortunately we can’t afford to support two homes and don’t want to live in a motor home or trailer. Moving is our desire and visiting here.

I think once we get things settled in the house, by spring, we’ll feel ready for company and ready for a return to see everyone. We will need a few months of just us to get that at home thing going on first. ~ Jo


Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Veteran's Day for John 2014

Dear John,

(Not my first 'dear john' letter)

I am thinking today of the November 11, 1988 graduation day from basic. I am there in my mind for several reasons.
     1) I have seldom felt the pride and shock combined as I felt on that day.
     2) I was with your grandmother and today I can't be.
     3) It was one of the most wonderful days in my life.
     4) It was the day that I realized you were no longer the kid I struggled to understand and raise           without jail time on your resume.

Traveling with my mom to Florida to watch you graduate from basic training on Veteran's Day was exciting and I was missing you so much that poor Grandma was exhausted listening to me talk about how excited I was to see you. The letters you sent, the calls you made were great, but seeing you and giving you a mommy hug was all I could think about. I had felt the gigantic changes in your mindset all through basic as you wrote to educate me about the lingo and the routine. You shared so much of what you were experiencing and I felt your maturity with each letter growing and developing. It was a mixed bag for me. I certainly wanted you to grow up and be independent and learn how to take responsibility, but I didn't know if all that meant you wouldn't need a mom anymore. I just didn't know.

Funny isn't it? There I was traveling with my own mother, who was just as excited to see you as I was, wondering if YOU needed a mom! I surely still needed mine. Still do.

Today I remember clearly that tall, straight-standing man in uniform that walked into that cafeteria hat in hand and walking toward us. I didn't recognize you for a few seconds, nor did Momma. WOW.  The smile finally broke and the tears fell from my eyes unchecked. My heart was so full and I was so interested to sit and talk with you and feel whatever you were feeling.

What I learned that week-end was life changing for me. I learned that somehow in the midst of all the craziness that was life with our two teen-age kids, a really good human boy had developed something from it all. Something that the Navy pulled out to full exposure. The confidence was there. The pride in self, was there. The maturity I had been watching develop through calls and letters, was glaringly there. Very starkly different and yet at the heart, the same.

The man before us was the natural and militarized version of the defiant teen I sent them. I was, at first, very ashamed that I couldn't find this man in my own teen. Then as the week-end progressed, it became clear that I had instilled the basics, the Navy had fine-tuned and developed it all in two months. With that clarification, I stood tall and proud and I knew for all the days of my life, my son, the Sailor, would always need his mom. I also knew that for all the days of my life I would be bragging about what a wonderful son I have. How proud I am that he chose to serve his country in such an honorable way and that he would never look back and wish he had chosen another path. This was his destiny and this was part of my legacy. The world is a better and safer place because my little guy gave four years of his freedom for generations of freedom to America.

Thank you, first for being the brave and brilliant Sailor you will always be; second for being the most incredible son I could ever ask for; third for always needing your mom. It's mutual, btw, I need you, too.

Enjoy this day, walk with pride and be sure your kids know exactly who their daddy is. The Navy is a proud and honored branch and you are an exemplary member for life.

I love you and I honor your service and your growth today and every day.

Mom

Monday, November 10, 2014

Veteran's Day 2014

Once again we are looking at the terrorists and what they could do in our country and around the world.

Once again we turn to our military to protect us. Putting their lives on the line as young men and women have been volunteering to do for hundreds of years, they serve their country. They serve us.

In May we honor those who have given their lives in service to our country as well as those who served and died at a later date. We have made Memorial Day the day to honor all who served and passed and that is a very somber and special day to anyone who has ever known or lost a veteran whether active duty or retired from service.

In November, however, we honor all veterans. All men and women who have served their country and now live among those who haven't without calling attention to the sacrifices they made nor the pain or loss they suffered to protect and preserve their country's freedom. Keeping those who would harm us at bay or stand up to a bullying group or nation trying to harm our allies, these brave souls gave of themselves more than any of us who have not could imagine. They each deserve a handshake, a thank you and our respect.

Yes, they deserve that and they also deserve to never be in need again. In need of anything most people take for granted. Those things like a good meal daily, a roof over their head, a job and so may more simple and necessary things. Our Veterans should never be homeless unless they want to be. There should not be medical issues going untreated because they can't afford them. The idea of someone giving up their life for two years, four years or thirty years and then come home to live without adequate basics is just insane. What kind of government allows that to happen? What kind of citizenry looks the other way? Who are we?

It is very discerning to me that in 2014 we are still not honoring our Veterans every single day.

I hope that I live long enough to see this change. I hope organizations like Wounded Warriors and The Red, White and Blue Project have no reason to exist soon. I pray and beg for the day when Veterans have the same insurance and retirement package that we so freely give to our congressional members. I ask you, who deserves it more?

For today, let me just say, thank you to every Vet who reads or hears about this little rant. Let me say that as a woman who never served but is the daughter of a Vet and the mother of another Vet, your sacrifices do not go unnoticed and do not go unappreciated. The honor of knowing you is as much a gift as the honor you feel having served your country. Bless you, welcome home and by all means, pray with me and sign every petition you see that might give congress a clue as to what our Veterans have earned.

We are so overdue with this kind of thinking, but I know in the end, we, the United States of America, will do the right thing. I hope sooner rather than later.

I salute you, give you my respect and gratitude and keep you in my prayers, always. God bless you.

Jo Heroux